CHICAGO (CBS) — Judge Vincent Gaughan said that his sentence was not going to make anybody 100 percent happy.
He said that before he handed down the sentence of 81 months to Jason Van Dyke for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. Reaction has been emotional on both sides. But Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon seemed resigned to the sentence.
“We know that no sentence will bring back Laquan McDonald or undo the hurt to his family and friends, just like no sentence will fix the concerns of the African American community in this city,” McMahon said.
Members of the African American community have been speaking out since the sentence was handed down. Many of them very angry, including activist William Calloway who believed the sentence was far too light.
“We don’t agree with the judge’s ruling at all. We feel that what Jason Van Dyke did with shooting Laquan (McDonald) 16 times, he deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars,” said Calloway. “That’s the consensus the among activist community, the black community and most Chicagoans at large. Today we got something that we didn’t expect. 81 months in the Illinois Department of Corrections. That’s a slap in the face.”
Calloway went on to urge everybody to register to vote. He said that is how change can happen.
The family of Jason Van Dyke left the courtroom without commenting to reporters.
CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller said the time Van Dyke will serve is actually less than 81 months.
“Basically he (Van Dyke) is going to have to do three-and-a-half more years. In Illinois, on a second degree murder conviction, you only do half the time that the judge imposes,” said Miller. “Frankly, he walked in there today expecting to do another 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. They found out now he’s going to do three years. It’s a pretty good day for the Van Dyke family.”
The prosecution does have an option for appeal. Miller said they can take it up to the Illinois Appellate Court claiming Van Dyke should have been sentenced on the more serious charge, which is aggravated battery with a firearm.
“If the appellate court agrees with the prosecutor that the judge was wrong, that could result in the appellate court could send it back down to the trial courts, sending it back to Judge Vincent Gaughan and have Van Dyke re-sentenced. This did not end today. It has the potential to go on into the future with an uncertain outcome.”
Several family members for both McDonald and Van Dyke testified at the hearing. Miller said it had an impact.
“Typically Judge Gaughan makes up his mind early in a case and sticks to it. But this was such emotional testimony that he heard today from the wife and the daughter and the other members of the family. I think it did have an effect on the sentence and his overall rulings in the case.”