Today, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was found GUILTY. Network 49’s Ted Miin, who is on our consent decree team, notes that this conviction does not mean that the system “works,” or that true justice was served. The jury found Van Dyke not guilty of official misconduct, meaning he was acting in accordance with official police procedures.
There is a preponderance of evidence that Van Dyke shot LaQuan McDonald – without thinking, without justification, and clearly without fear of accountability. Had video of the shooting not been captured and not surfaced, McDonald would be just another dead black teen and Van Dyke would be in uniform and on patrol.
Our hearts break for McDonald’s family and the city as a whole, who have yet to experience real justice.
Van Dyke’s conviction is not cause for celebration. There is no victory in receiving the least we should expect. That it might be a cause for celebration is an indictment of how rotten this city is when it comes to safety and accountability.
Let’s not forget the infamous video that led to Van Dyke’s trial also led to the investigation of CPD, which led to a lawsuit and negotiations for a strong federal court consent decree to achieve better police accountability. Network 49’s Ted Miin, Emilie Junge and Michael Harrington all spent – and will spend, countless hours to ensure that the consent decree leads to real change. The verdict does not change that.
We should remember the video was withheld by Mayor Emanuel, until a judge forced him to release it.
We should remember the cover-up was supported by compliant public officials and police leadership that knew of its existence and its contents, yet hewed to the line that McDonald’s shooting was justified. Justice awaits for those people, if justice is to be served.
Van Dyke’s conviction not does not remove the fact that police leadership and the political establishment all conspired to obstruct justice. We have much work to do.