White US cop convicted of murder of black teen

CHICAGO - A white Chicago police officer was found guilty of murder on Friday for fatally shooting a black teenager and triggering months of protests in America's third largest city.

Jason van Dyke fired 16 bullets into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald during the 2014 confrontation. The slaying was captured on police video that showed the knife-wielding teen appearing to walk away from officers when he was shot.

The 12-person jury reached a verdict just one day after beginning deliberations. They chose to dispense of first-degree murder charges, and instead convicted Van Dyke of lesser second-degree murder. 

The officer was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm -- for each bullet he fired -- and acquitted of one count of official misconduct.

"This is a victory for America," said McDonald's great-uncle and family spokesman Marvin Hunter. 

"Laquan McDonald represents all of the victims that suffered what he suffered."

The city of Chicago had already reached a $5-million civil settlement with McDonald's family.

A jubilant crowd -- some of whom told local media that they were in shock over the outcome -- grew steadily in the city's downtown business district, demanding additional resignations of city officials and more police reform. 

The city had been on edge in advance of the verdict, since the case had already caused political upheaval and months of earlier protests. 

City officials and business owners beefed up security as the trial neared an end, while thousands of police officers were deployed to the streets.  

Lead prosecutor Joe McMahon said he hoped the verdict "begins a new chapter in the relationship between law enforcement and the community."

"It provides validation and a sense of justice for many residents," he said. 

Van Dyke was taken straight into custody. Under Illinois state law, he faces four to 20 years for the murder finding while aggravated battery with a firearm carries six to 30 years.

Source
AFP

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