Jason Van Dyke withdraws appeal, ends effort to overturn Laquan McDonald murder conviction

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The former Chicago police officer imprisoned for the 2014 murder of Laquan McDonald on Friday ended an effort to overturn his conviction.

An Illinois appellate court allowed Jason Van Dyke to withdraw his appeal, meaning he will serve out his sentence without further court proceedings.

"It shows that maybe Mr. Van Dyke and his team kind of understands that people do things in their life that they are not proud of, but at some point we have to take responsibility for those things that we have done," said Pastor Marvin Hunter, Laquan McDonald's great uncle.

Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times while the 17-year-old was walking away from him with a knife nearly six years ago. Video of the shooting sparked protests, the firing of CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and an investigation into the Chicago Police Department by the U.S. Justice Department that resulted in the consent decree the department operates under today.

He was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison after a Cook County jury convicted him of second degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.

Van Dyke's attorney filed a motion with the court Sept. 29, 2020, asking that his appeal be dropped. Attorney Jennifer Blagg said Van Dyke decided to withdraw his appeal because he's trying to move on with his life.

"He thought it was in the best interest of all the parties involved, including the McDonald family, that there be some finality," Blagg said.

Kane County State's Attorney Joseph McMahon was appointed special prosecutor in the Van Dyke case, and responded, saying, "Mr. Van Dyke's decision prevents additional years of litigation, bringing finality to the thorough prosecution of this case in which his rights were protected and justice was served."

McMahon and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul appealed Van Dyke's sentence, contending it didn't match the severity of the crime. The Illinois Supreme Court last year let the sentence stand, offering no explanation of its decision.

Pastor Hunter said the fight for police reform across the country continues, and he applauds those who have been peacefully protesting.

"I pray that effort will continue to go until we actually have a police force in this country that mirrors our Constitution," he said.

Under Illinois law, Van Dyke will likely serve about half his sentence. Pastor Hunter said bringing about change takes time, and the focus should be on changing law and not hating one another.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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