Federal authorities said they will not criminally charge Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer convicted of murder in the 2014 shooting death of Black teenager Laquan McDonald on Monday. The shooting garnered national attention when dash-cam footage showed the white officer opening fire on the 17-year-old, striking him 16 times, and killing him.
In a news release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago said that the decision was made after consulting with the McDonald family and that the “family was in agreement not to pursue a second prosecution.”
The release also stated prosecuting Van Dyke on federal charges would have been much more difficult than it was to prosecute him in state court because the burden of proof is far higher. Federal prosecutors would have to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Van Dyke’s acts were deliberate and not out of fear, mistake, or bad judgment.
In October of 2018, Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. A judge sentenced Van Dyke to 81 months in state prison. The former officer served less than half that sentence before he was released from prison in February 2022.
Since Van Dyke’s release from prison in February, activists and community members angry about what they saw as a lenient sentence have called for civil rights charges to be brought against him.
Van Dyke remains under supervised release for three years.