Muslim Times(Web Desk) – A white police officer in Chicago, Illinois, has been found guilty of murder for the 2014 shooting of a black teenager, sparking celebratory street demonstrations in a case that underscored the long-standing tensions between African Americans and law enforcement.
Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, 40, was found guilty of second-degree murder on Friday. He was also convicted of 16 counts of aggravated battery, one count for each of the 16 shots he fired.
Black teenager Laquan McDonald, 17, was killed while armed with a knife as he walked down the center of a street in the third-largest US city.
Van Dyke faces up to 20 years in prison for the second-degree murder conviction and up to 30 years for each of the 16 counts of aggravated battery.
Jurors said they faulted Van Dyke for escalating the conflict when he could have waited for more police assistance, such as an officer with a non-lethal Taser weapon.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Gaughan immediately revoked bail and Van Dyke was escorted out of the courtroom and into Cook County Jail.
His conviction seemed to quell the violent riots that have occurred in other US cities in recent years when white officers have been cleared of charges in the shooting deaths of black men.
Police killings of mostly unarmed black men elsewhere in the United States helped fuel the Black Lives Matter movement and became an issue in the 2016 US presidential campaign.
After Friday’s verdict, small, peaceful demonstrations assembled in central Chicago. About 100 people marched toward a gathering spot in Chicago’s Loop area.
The protesters were holding signs in support of Black Lives Matter and chanting “Justice for Laquan, justice for all” and “The whole damn system is guilty as hell.” Some chanted “Whose streets? Our streets.”
The officer’s lawyer said he would appeal and push for a change of venue, which was denied to the defense in this trial.
“This is just the first step, we have a long way for the black community to get truly get justice,” protester Duke White, who said his cousin was also shot by police, told NBC News. “Police have always disrespected us.”