Former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was previously convicted for the 2014 murder of teenager Laquan McDonald, was sentenced Friday to 81 months in prison.
Video of Van Dyke firing numerous rounds at McDonald, who was 17 at the time, was released to the public about a year after the incident. This led to protests across the city of Chicago.
At the hearing on Friday other citizens complained of alleged past mistreatment at the hands of the Van Dyke.
One witness told the court, Van Dyke, 40, had put him in a stranglehold after he refused to spit out a cough drop.
Another claimed that he had pushed a gun to his head, as he was leaving a gas station screaming racist epithets as he was doing so.
Many of those attending the hearing voiced strong opinions calling the sentence to light. Supporters of Van Dyke said he was merely doing his job and trying to protect the public.
OUR FREE OPINION
Van Dyke will serve less than 3 1/2 years in prison. Dashboard camera footage showed that Van Dyke fired 16 rounds at McDonald as he was walking away from the police holding a knife. The officer apparently has a history of police misconduct culminating in this murder charge. Given the circumstances, however, we do not find the imposed sentence to be overly light. The victim was armed and acting aggressively. We do believe he was guilty of murder. Finally, we continue to urge police departments to maintain or adopt programs designed to train officers to deal with mentally challenged, or intoxicated (owing to alcohol or drugs) citizens they encounter on the streets.