Chicago police officer jailed after guilty verdicts

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke testifies on Tuesday Oct. 2 2018 during his first degree murder trial for the shooting death of Laquan Mc Donald at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago

The trial of Jason Van Dyke, who is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct, has become the latest focus of a long national debate over the use of police force against minorities.

Though he was originally charged with first-degree murder, jurors were instructed Thursday that they also could consider second-degree murder.

In the aftermath of McDonald's death, three other police officers - including Van Dyke's partner on the night - were charged previous year with attempting to cover up the shooting, to which they pleaded not guilty.

Jason van Dyke fired 16 bullets into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald during the 2014 confrontation.

McDonald was carrying a small knife with its blade folded, but a police video capturing the incident showed the teenager appearing to walk away from police when he was shot.

Additionally, none of the other officers who were on the scene with Van Dyke in 2014 felt the need to fire their weapons, even after Van Dyke began discharging his own. "This is an emotional time for our city, and many activists are calling for people to take to the streets regardless of the outcome of the trial", Principal Brianna Latko wrote in a letter according to the Chicago Tribune.

"I'm really happy", Curtis said, "I really felt like if they had returned a not-guilty verdict I would have burst into tears immediately". McDonald was pronounced dead at hospital.

"[His] eyes were bugging out".

But O'Donnell said that he had no information on whether Van Dyke knew if McDonald was high on PCP when he was shot.

"I shot him", he said.

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Three other officers, including detective David March, and officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney, were charged for allegedly covering up evidence in the shooting. "I still see him holding that knife with his right hand, not letting go of it".

Van Dyke was the first Chicago police officer to face trial for killing someone on duty in 50 years.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, in a joint statement, appealed for calm.

The clip resulted in mass protests, culminating with the dismissal of the police chief and a Department of Justice investigation into the Chicago Police Department's use of force.

One juror noted as "the turning point" testimony that Van Dyke told his partner, "Oh my God, we're going to have to shoot that guy", before arriving at the scene.

The verdict is the latest chapter in a story that has made headlines since a judge ordered the release of squad auto video of the shooting in November 2015.

The justice department issued a report past year that found the police had routinely violated the constitutional rights of the city's residents. They attend different schools.

Some schools were preparing to send students home early if the verdict was announced during classes.

However, anti-police fliers posted around the city and posts on social media had led police to be watchful in northwest and southwest neighbourhoods where many police officers live. Police are now investigating the threats.

The city has been on edge in advance of the verdict and city officials and business owners have beefed up security in expectation of protests.

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