Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and the prosecutor who won Jason Van Dyke’s murder conviction say they are challenging the former Chicago police officer’s sentence, which would likely allow his prison release in about three years.
"I won't opine on the length of the sentence,” Raoul said at a Monday news conference. “But I believe the law should be followed."
Raoul and Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon said they filed a motion Monday morning asking the state Supreme Court to order a redo of Van Dyke’s sentencing.
They said Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan erred last month in basing the sentence on the second-degree murder count instead of the battery counts, each of which carries a minimum prison sentence of six years.
Police accountability advocates have characterized Van Dyke’s sentence — 81 months with the possibility of release after he serves half that time — as far too lenient.
Raoul and McMahan first discussed the sentencing a week ago in a 45-minute phone call.
Their motion also challenges a Gaughan statement during the sentencing hearing. The judge said those battery counts “would all merge” into a single act if he were to consider them in setting Van Dyke’s penalty. If the counts are considered separately it could mean a much longer sentence for Van Dyke.
When Raoul first indicated he was reviewing the sentence, Van Dyke attorney Dan Herbert blasted the move, saying Gaughan “carefully considered the arguments made and issued the correct ruling under the law.”
Separately, Van Dyke’s legal team has indicated it plans to appeal his conviction.
Van Dyke shot McDonald as the teen carried a knife and walked away from officers. A police dashcam video contradicted reports by officers that McDonald was attacking Van Dyke.
The case drew international publicity and led to a federal court-enforced agreement intended to reshape Chicago policing.
A Cook County judge last month acquitted three officers of charges they conspired to cover up for Van Dyke.
Chip Mitchell reports out of WBEZ’s West Side studio about policing. Follow him at @ChipMitchell1.