Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago police officer convicted of killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, is set to be released from prison in the coming days, prompting Laquan's family and activists to seek a federal investigation into the high-profile murder.
Van Dyke will walk out of prison Thursday after serving more than three years for second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He was sentenced to 6 years and 9 months in prison in 2019.
The former police officer shot Laquan 16 times during a disturbance call in Oct. 2014, killing the teenager. Many of the shots were fired while the teen was already on the ground.
Loved ones of Laquan, community activists and politicians have doubled down on their calls for action ahead of Van Dyke's release, demanding the U.S. Department of Justice open an investigation and pursue federal civil rights charges.
"We realize that a federal investigation won’t bring Laquan back, but we also realize it’s incumbent upon all of us that we establish a national standard for effective policing in communities of color so we restore the public’s trust in law enforcement," said state Rep. Kam Buckner.
Supporters are planning a day of action on Feb. 3, which includes a protest at Chicago's Federal Building. And as politicians renew their calls for police reform, demonstrators are calling on Chicago transit workers to stand in solidarity by shutting down service.
"We need to make sure Laquan is not forgotten, and this does not happen again," U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly said. "This is just plain, simple injustice."
Speaking Friday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said "the justice system isn't always justice."
"...And I do not think that the outcome of the sentencing of Jason Van Dyke was proper," he said. "So I'm disappointed."
Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition says Van Dyke's release should be a wake-up call and the motivation behind peaceful protests and legal actions to change the system.
"I just want justice, the right justice to be done," Tracie Hunter, Laquan's grandmother said. "Eighty one months wasn't no time at all. It was a slap on the wrist."
Speaking about Van Dyke's release, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday the city is "not where we want to be" when it comes to police reform and accountability.
However, she said Chicago is further along than any other city that has been under a consent decree.
"...Yes, we need to keep moving forward...what you're going to see is we're making remarkable progress in a difficult time," she stated.