FILE - In this Oct., 2018 file photo, Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke watches the prosecution's closing statements during his first degree murder trial for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago. The Illinois Supreme Court has let stand a less than seven year prison sentence for a white Chicago police officer convicted of killing black teenager Laquan McDonald that some critics characterized as a slap on the wrist. A Tuesday, March 19, 2019 decision denies a bid by Illinois attorney general Kwame Raoul and a special prosecutor to re-sentence Jason Van Dyke. The February request focused on highly legalistic issues surrounding sentencing guidelines. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool, File)

Court lets Chicago cop's sentence stand in teen's shooting

March 19, 2019 - 11:38 am

CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would let stand a less than seven year prison sentence for a white Chicago police officer convicted of killing black teenager Laquan McDonald that many criticized as far too lenient.

The decision denies a rare bid by the Illinois attorney general's office and a special prosecutor to get the state's highest court to toss a lower court's sentence and order new sentencing hearing. McDonald was carrying a knife when Jason Van Dyke shot him in October 2014. Police video of the shooting that the city released in 2015 under court order showed Van Dyke firing 16 bullets into McDonald, some of them after the 17-year-old fell to the ground.

Jurors in October convicted Jason Van Dyke of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. The former carries a maximum 20-year prison term. Each count of aggravated battery carries up to 30 years.

Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced Van Dyke for second-degree murder only, citing guidelines. Van Dyke likely would have received a stiffer sentence if he'd been sentenced on the 16 counts of battery.

The February request by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Kane County State's Attorney Joseph McMahon argued that Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan got the guidelines wrong in his sentencing in January.

The Illinois Supreme Court's decision was the latest chapter in a saga that has included massive protests, the firing of the police superintendent and the ouster of Cook County's top prosecutor by voters a few months later.

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Check out the AP's complete coverage of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald.

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