The Illinois Supreme Court has rejected a bid by Attorney General Kwami Raoul and special prosecutor Joseph McMahon to order new sentencing for Jason Van Dyke, the ex-Chicago police officer scheduled for release from prison in less than three years in the death of Laquan McDonald, according to the Chicago Tribune.
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Raoul and McMahon argued that Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan improperly interpreted the guidelines in his January sentencing of Van Dyke. He was convicted in October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the 2014 slaying of McDonald.
Raoul and McMahon’s request came after many criticized Van Dyke’s lenient sentence of six years and nine months in prison. But in a 4-to-2 vote, the court decided on Tuesday that it will not order a new sentencing for the killer cop. The Chicago Tribune notes that no explanation was given for the court’s refusal to hear the case.
As reported by USA Today, two of the seven Illinois Supreme Court justices said they believed Judge Gaughan misinterpreted case law when he sentenced Van Dyke for the second-degree murder charge, not the aggravated battery with a firearm. The court’s rejection means Raoul and McMahon are now unlikely to stiffen his sentence.
Raoul expressed disappointment at the court’s majority for not offering insight into how it ruled.
“The majority’s denial, without explanation, does not confirm whether Judge Gaughan’s sentence is consistent with Illinois law,” Raoul said. “Nonetheless, we recognize and respect the court’s authority, which it can exercise without a specific request.”
Van Dyke’s defense attorney said he was pleased with the court’s decision.
“We hope that the decision will strike a fatal blow to the political exploitation of the death of Laquan McDonald,” Dan Herbert said in a statement. “Our judicial system may not be perfect. However the bedrock of the system maintains that all defendants, including unpopular ones, are entitled to fair and impartial treatment.”
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Chicago’s mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot called the ruling “a sad reminder of the work we must do to create a system that is free of institutional racism and truly holds police accountable for their misconduct.
“We cannot build trust between police and communities they serve if officers who commit crimes are not held to the same standards as other defendants,” she said in a statement.