Former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was released from prison Thursday after serving three years in prison for killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
In 2019, Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He was then sentenced to nearly seven years behind bars and was granted early release this week after displaying good behavior, CNN reported.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot weighed in on Van Dyke’s release and stated she gets “why this continues to feel like a miscarriage of justice, especially when many Black and brown men get sentenced to so much more prison time for having committed far lesser crimes. It’s these distortions in the criminal justice system, historically, that have made it so hard to build trust.”
In 2014, video captured Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times, most of the shots were fired while the teen was already on the ground. The shooting gave rise to protests across Chicago, as many demanded Van Dyke be held accountable for McDonald’s death.
Joe McMahon, the former prosecutor in the case against Van Dyke told CNN, he wanted the former officer to serve 18-20 years behind bars.
“When I think back what my reaction was in 2019 when this sentence was handed down, (it) was wow. He’s going to be out fairly quick,” he said.
Rev. Marshall Hatch, a Chicago minister spoke with The Associated Press and said, “This is the ultimate illustration that Black lives don’t matter as much as other lives. To get that short amount of time for a murder sends a bad message to the community.”
Many have been calling for the Department of Justice to file federal charges against Van Dyke.
Just days before Van Dyke’s release, the NAACP sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking the DOJ to charge the ex-officer with a civil rights violation under the Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law, The Associated Press reported.
The letter stated, “Throughout our 113-year history, the NAACP has advocated for a fair and equitable justice system that holds those fully accountable for their actions. We have seen unfair and inequitable favor given to law enforcement officers who unjustly take the lives of members of the Black community and have fought fervently in opposition to such favor.”
According to CNN, the Department made a statement saying it would review the information.