Laquan McDonald

Laquan Mcdonald's Family Demands New Charges for Jason Van Dyke

Activists and members of McDonald’s family say three years has not been enough time behind bars for a crime that has so deeply injured a community.

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With less than a day to go until Jason Van Dyke is set to be released, family members of Laquan McDonald are stepping up their calls for new charges against him. 

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Canaryville, Tracy Hunter pleaded that the man who killed her grandson remain in prison.

“Do not let him walk out of jail tomorrow,” Hunter said surrounded by supporters who are demanding new, federal charges be brought against the former Chicago police officer.

Already, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Congressman Bobby Rush have called upon U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to pursue federal charges against the former Van Dyke.

Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth have requested an update on the Justice Department investigation of the 2014 killing, which sparked outrage after it was revealed to the public.

Will Calloway, the community organizer who worked to secure the release of the video, is among those calling for Garland and other officials to weigh in on the pending release and seek federal charges. "These are not new calls," Calloway said. "We have crying for federal charges for the last three years."

Van Dyke was convicted in 2018 of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm for the shooting and killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

He was sentenced to more than six years in prison but now is being released a little more than three years after he was sentenced.

Tuesday, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, the NAACP, sent a letter to the attorney general saying the minimum Van Dyke should be charged with is a federal civil rights violation.

Law professor Harold Krent said federal charges are not uncommon when local courts fail to act.

"It is a message to the system that somehow Van Dyke seemed to get off with a much more lenient sentence than would be appropriate given the heinous character of his crime," Krent said.

Activists and members of McDonald’s family agree, saying three years has not been enough time behind bars for a crime that has so deeply injured a community.

Tracy Hunter vows to fight for new charges until Van Dyke is back behind bars.

"He gets to go home to his family and see his kids," she said. "I can’t do that because my grandson is gone."

Krent said even if new charges are brought, it is unlikely Van Dyke will remain in jail. He said it is typical for a federal judge to allow a defendant to remain out on bond pending his new trial.

Protests that were scheduled for Thursday’s release may be scaled back due to the severe weather. Instead of a rally, activists are planning to deliver a letter to U.S. Attorney John Lausch demanding that he use his authority to charge Van Dyke.

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