An Illinois appellate court has allowed former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke to withdraw his appeal of his conviction in the on-duty 2014 killing of Laquan McDonald.
The decision means Van Dyke will serve out the rest of his sentence without further court proceedings.
Van Dyke decided to withdraw the appeal because “he’s trying to move on with his life and move forward,” attorney Jennifer Blagg told the Tribune Friday.
“He thought it was in the best interest of all the parties involved, including the McDonald family, that there be some finality.”
The full appellate briefs had not yet been filed.
Van Dyke was sentenced to 6 3/4 years behind bars; given expected credit for good behavior, he is slated for release in February 2022. After a stint in a federal prison, he was transferred to state custody, but his attorney on Friday declined to specify exactly where.
In a statement Friday evening, Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon — who was appointed special prosecutor in the Van Dyke case — said the decision “prevents additional years of litigation, bringing finality to the thorough prosecution of this case in which his rights were protected and justice was served.”
Van Dyke shot McDonald in October 2014 as the 17-year-old walked away from police on a Southwest Side street while holding a knife.
Graphic police dashboard camera video of the shooting — ordered released by a judge more than a year later — sparked weeks of chaos and political upheaval, exacerbating the already fraught relationship between Chicago police and minority communities.
Van Dyke’s monthlong jury trial in fall 2018 ended in a historic guilty verdict, making him the first Chicago police officer in half a century to be convicted of murder for an on-duty incident.
Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery, one for each shot he fired at 17-year-old McDonald.
After outcry about the relatively short prison term, McMahon along with state Attorney General Kwame Raoul unsuccessfully tried to get the Illinois Supreme Court to order a new sentencing.
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