Van Dyke, 40, will likely serve slightly more than three years. His sentence is based on his second-degree murder conviction, which only requires 50 percent of a sentence to be served. He will receive credit for time served awaiting sentencing.
The decision comes more than four years after Van Dyke killed McDonald and more than two years after courts and reporters forced the city of Chicago to release video of the killing it had sought to keep secret. The video showed that McDonald had not lunged at Van Dyke, as officers and city officials claimed for years to explain why he had not faced discipline or criminal charge.
A Cook County jury in October found Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the Oct. 20, 2014, slaying. McDonald, 17, was shot 16 times.
The murder charge carried a possible sentence of four to 20 years in prison; probation without prison time was also an option. Each count of aggravated battery carried a sentence of six to 30 years.
Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan on Friday said he would only consider the second-degree murder conviction while making his decision.
"This [sentencing someone] is not pleasant and this is not easy," the longtime judge said. "I assume that 100 percent of everybody [non-white] is going to be disappointed."
Defense attorneys sought probation. Special prosecutor Joe McMahon during his closing arguments Friday requested a sentence of 18 to 20 years.
Wife Tiffany Van Dyke took the stand Friday afternoon, asking the judge for leniency.
"My biggest fear is that somebody would kill my husband [in prison] for something he did as a police officer, something he was trained to do," Tiffany Van Dyke said. "There was no malice, no hatred on that night. It was simply a man doing his job."
The prosecution called six witnesses earlier in the day: Vidale Joy, Jeremy Mayers, Eric Breathett, Edward Nance, Alberto Luces and the Rev. Martin Hunter, who is Laquan McDonald's great-uncle. The first five men testified about separate traffic stop experiences they had with Jason Van Dyke.
Nance, who was pulled over by Van Dyke in 2007, cried on the stand. He testified that Van Dyke violently cuffed him and threw him face-down in a squad car.
"I couldn’t move my shoulders. I couldn’t move nothing," he said.
Nance said Van Dyke "pulled me out of the car by left arm," took off the handcuffs and told him to go home.
"I said, 'Wait. Can I have my license? Where's my license at?'" Van Dyke said, "Shut the f--- up or you're going to jail," according to Nance.
Nance previously sued Van Dyke for tearing his shoulder. Nance was awarded $350,000 by a jury.
Hunter took the stand last, and read a victim-impact statement written from McDonald's point of view: "I'm a real victim of murder and that can never be changed."
The defense began calling witnesses later Friday afternoon. Among them was Van Dyke's 17-year-old daughter Kaylee, but no audio or video was recorded of her testimony because she is a minor.
Former CPD union president Dean Angelo also testified for the defense.
“He’s not the monster people made him out to be in the media and in political circles," Angelo said. "He's a big, gentle kid. ... He's a hard worker. He's dedicated. He's a good guy. He's religious. He's quite loyal."
Van Dyke faces four to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder; probation without prison time is also an option. Each count of aggravated battery carries a sentence of six to 30 years.
Van Dyke was the first Chicago police officer in 50 years to be charged with murder for an on-duty incident. The murder of Laquan McDonald took place on October 20, 2014, in Chicago, Illinois, when the 17-year-old African American was fatally shot by the white cop. McDonald was reported to have been behaving erratically while walking down the street, and holding a folding knife with a three-inch blade at his side. Initially, internal police reports described the incident similarly and ruled the shooting justified and Van Dyke was not charged in the shooting at that time.
When the police released a dash cam video of the shooting thirteen months later, on November 24, 2015, it showed McDonald had been walking away from the police when he was shot and posed no threat to them while doing so.
Video of the shooting, which was released via court order in November 2015, sparked massive protests and prompted federal and local investigations. [MORE]