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Jason Van Dyke guilty of lesser murder charge in Laquan McDonald shooting

Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. File Photo by Nancy Stone/UPI/Pool

By Danielle Haynes, UPI

A jury found Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of a downgraded second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.

Van Dyke also was found guilty of all 16 counts of aggravated battery for shooting McDonald 16 times Oct. 20, 2014. Judge Vincent Gaughan told jurors that though the officer had been charged with first-degree murder, they could consider downgrading it to a second-degree murder charge during deliberations.

The jury, which deliberated for 7 and one-half hours, acquitted him of one count of official misconduct.

Gaughan ordered sheriff's deputies to immediately take Van Dyke into custody pending his sentencing.

Surveillance footage of the incident showed Van Dyke appeared to shoot McDonald while the younger man was walking away from the officer. But Van Dyke said McDonald was behaving erratically and had lunged at him with the knife.

"[His] eyes were bugging out. His face was just expressionless," Van Dyke said in testimony earlier this week. "He turned his torso towards me ... He waved the knife from his lower right side upwards across his body towards [his] left shoulder."

At that point, Van Dyke shot McDonald and he fell to the ground. The officer said he began shooting again because he believed McDonald was trying to get back up.

Van Dyke fired all the bullets in his gun and began to reload when another officer intervened and told him the situation was under control. Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times, was one of several officers on the scene but the only one to use his gun.

Three other officers, including detective David March, and officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney, were charged for allegedly covering up evidence in the shooting.

Video from a dashboard-mounted camera shows McDonald walking away from Van Dyke, who aimed his gun at the teen as soon as he arrived on the scene. McDonald is seen still clutching the knife while on the ground, but his lack of movement in the footage questions Van Dyke's claim that he tried to get back up.

"The video doesn't show my perspective," Van Dyke told prosecutors when asked about the discrepancy.

McDonald's death prompted demands for a police probe and the resignation of Chicago's top leaders amid protests.

Ray Downs contributed to this report.

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US News: Jason Van Dyke guilty of lesser murder charge in Laquan McDonald shooting
Jason Van Dyke guilty of lesser murder charge in Laquan McDonald shooting
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