Van Dyke’s murder trial and its lingering questions

Riley Falvey

In 2015, a dash-cam video of Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting 17-year old Laquan McDonald sixteen times was released after over a year of being held from the public. When said video was released, it fueled a lot of upset in the city of Chicago and beyond. Since then, one question has begged for an answer: Were Van Dyke’s actions justified?

Earlier this month, a jury answered the question with a conviction. Leading up to the verdict, many Chicagoans were worried about the public’s reactions to the outcome of the trial. Tweets, comments and rumors had been going around saying that if Van Dyke was convicted of anything less than murder, the city would erupt in protest.

Many Nazareth students who live in the Midway area of Chicago were directly affected by the tense atmosphere leading up to that Friday’s verdict. The Orange Route bus which serves that area was canceled in order to insure the safety of students. Many students expressed concern and fear for themselves, their family, and friends.

With the Van Dyke family living in their same neighborhood, many students knew the officer’s daughters, or even went to school with them. With this fear of what might happen after the verdict was announced, many were left distraught and saddened by the way that their neighborhood was being viewed by other Chicagoans, just because of their association with officer Van Dyke’s family.

When the verdict was announced, Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with 2nd degree murder and 16 accounts of aggravated battery with a firearm, one charge for every shot fired at McDonald, but he was also found not-guilty for professional misconduct.

Van Dyke has become the first Chicago police officer convicted of murder for an on-duty shooting in nearly 50 years.

The repercussions of the trial largely affect Chicago police officers and citizens. Now, officers are required to wear cameras and to keep a log of every bullet that is fired from their weapons. Protocols like this are just the beginning of how being in Chicago law enforcement will be executed differently for the safety of everyone involved in situations like the one in Van Dyke’s trial.