Former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke attends his sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Friday, January 18, 2019, in Chicago, for the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)
Former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was convicted of the 2014 murder of teenager Laquan McDonald, was sentenced Friday to 81 months in prison.
Van Dyke was convicted in October of second-degree murder. The video grainy from his camera that filmed the black teenager 16 times in less than 30 seconds of outrage, polarized Chicago and attracted national attention on how to control minority communities.
Van Dyke said Friday that he prayed "daily for the soul of Laquan McDonald."
"I'll have to live with this for the rest of my life … taking it to my grave," he said, adding: "He was a police officer who was trying to make dangerous decisions, nobody wants to take his own life."
Several black motorists also testified Friday that Van Dyke used racial slurs and excessive force during traffic stops in the years leading up to the 2014 shooting.
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Vidale Joy said that Van Dyke made a racist comment after stopping him in 2005 and at one point put a gun to Joy's head. He said that Van Dyke "seemed enraged" and seemed "crazy".
However, during the interrogation, Joy acknowledged that he did not allege that Van Dyke used an insult in his first reports of the arrest.
Another witness, Ed Nance, struggled to maintain his composure as he looked across the room to identify Van Dyke. Nance claimed that the former policeman cursed him and hit him on the hood of the car, grabbed him by the arms and took him to the patrol car.
Accusations of racial prejudice were not a focus in Van Dyke's trial last year, but prosecutors highlighted the accusations in an attempt to persuade the judge that Van Dyke deserved a harsher sentence.
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A relative of Laquan McDonald read a statement from the perspective of the murdered teenager, saying that Van Dyke killed him without provocation, while the Reverend Marvin Hunter read a letter written in his nephew's voice. He said McDonald had a difficult childhood, but he was changing his life when Van Dyke shot him during the violent confrontation on a South Side street in Chicago.
"My death has brought inconsolable pain to my mother and my little sister … although I am dead, my murder at the hands of Jason Van Dyke should not be minimized only to this conviction," Hunter, a pastor of Grace Memorial Missionary Baptist Church , read from McDonald's perspective.
Hunter also noted that Van Dyke never apologized for killing McDonald.
Van Dyke, 40, sat in a mustard-colored suit on the defense table during the procedure. His wife and young daughters had asked for clemency in the letters sent to the judge before the trial.
One of her daughters, Kaylee Van Dyke, took the job on Friday.
She blamed the media for shaming the "cops for doing their job."
Van Dyke's wife, Tiffany, told the court that "life has been a nightmare" and that she can not sleep without her husband at her side.
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"He is a great father and a wonderful husband," he said. "He was also an officer dedicated to the Chicago Police Department. They have lost a great officer. "
Van Dyke's father, Owen, also begged the court for a reduced sentence.
"Jason is not the person described by prosecutors," he said, describing several of his son's accomplishments throughout his childhood and school years.
In addition to second-degree murder, Van Dyke was found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated badault in McDonald's death.
ARCHIVE – In this archive photo of November 24, 2015, a man holds a sign with a photo of Laquan McDonald on it, during a protest over the shooting of McDonald, 17, in Chicago. The city of Chicago is closely watching the word of a verdict in the case of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke accused of murder in the McDonald shooting in 2014. The Chicago Police Department canceled the days off and put the officers in 12-hour shifts. (AP Photo / Paul Beaty, Archive)
Prosecutors argued that the veteran police officer lied several times about the threat he claims McDonald raised and said a dashcam video showed it.
"You've seen it on video," prosecutor Jody Gleason said. "He invented it."
Van Dyke's lawyers painted McDonald as a dangerous teenager who refused to throw away a three-inch retractable knife that he had been carrying the night he was killed.
Prior to Friday's sentencing, Van Dyke's lawyers applied for parole, the minimum punishment in Illinois for second-degree murder. Prosecutors presented several options that would keep the old office behind bars for decades.
On Thursday, Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson acquitted three Chicago police officers who were accused of trying to cover up McDonald's gunshots.
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Stephenson said there was no evidence that former Detective David March, former officer Joseph Walsh and officer Thomas Gaffney, who were previously charged with conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice, tried to hide evidence related to the death. of McDonald & # 39; s. He even said that the evidence presented at his trial even "shows the opposite".
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Ruth Ravve of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.