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by Peter Moskos

October 5, 2018

Van Dyke Guilty in Chicago

Former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder in the shooting of Laquan McDonald. This isn't surprising. I think Van Dyke was found guilty because, get this, he was.

I wrote this in 2015:
The video is out. Finally. After long attempts to sweep it under the rug failed.
It's a bad shooting.... The officer who killed McDonald fits the pattern of bad cops: high activity, drug work, too many complaints. Sure, all the complaints weren't justified, but some of them were. And undoubtedly he did a lot of bad shit that people didn't file formal complaints about.
Now of course I know that in a court of law anything Van Dyke did in the past is irrelevant to his guilt or innocence is this criminal case. Whether he was a "bad" cop or not is irrelevant and inadmissible in a court of law. But I'm mentioning it because I'm not a court of law.

And second-degree murder seems correct. It meets these conditions:
Intended to kill or do great bodily harm to that individual (or knew that the act would do so); or

Knows that the acts create a strong probability of causing death or great bodily harm to the individual.
Combined with this mitigating factor:
At the time of the killing, he/she believed that the killing would have been lawfully justified but the belief was unreasonable.
Van Dyke had options not limited to A) doing nothing, B) not shooting, and C) not continuing to pump rounds into McDonald after McDonald was down. As judged by this former police officer, I say Van Dyke was not reasonable.

1 comment:

Otis Blue said...

This was pretty clearly an illegal action on the part of Van Dyke. No one else shot and then he shoots 17 times? I always felt that had Van Dyke shot a single volley of 3-6 rounds, this would not have gone to trial, but he shot 17 times, and that says something about his mindset at the time. It says that his mindset was wrong.

The concern I have is the over-reach of the prosecutor and talking heads. A paraphrase recounted on Second City Cop claimed the prosecutor questioned Van Dyke during trial that: this all could have been avoided had you stayed in your car.

You've spent significant time on this topic over the last few years, but there it is writ large: de-policing as expectation. Obviously no one reasonable wants cops ignoring knife-wielding high-as-a-kite juvenile delinquents running about their neighborhood committing acts of vandalism and mayhem. We don't wants cops shooting them unnecessarily, but honestly, taking crazy drugs and running around stabbing inanimate objects should reasonably be expected to shorten ones life expectancy on average.

I think the issue cops have with this conviction is the politics behind it. The fact that the shooting was signed off on as justified until it wasn't... and the judge refused to allow the defense to question those who did sign off on it. It was a criminal shoot AND a political ram-rodding. I believe that when cops do bad, they need to be held accountable, but when one of the guys who signs off on a shooting that later turns out to be Murder 2 still has the job of police commissioner... yeah, cops have a reason to be upset.