Chicagoans react to Van Dyke’s conviction: ‘I was shaking as verdict was read’

Years of controversy over Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke’s fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald came to a head Friday when a jury convicted him of second-degree murder and aggravated battery.

Here’s what people across the city had to say about the verdict:

Max Baire | Paul Biasco/For the Sun-Times

Max Baire, 26, Logan Square

“I was kind of shaking [while the verdict was read]. I think it kind of sets a precedent. I do still think there’s a lot to be done. There needs to be a lot of reform with police training in this city. Hopefully, it scares police officers into not being so trigger-happy.”

Alma Biggs | Alexandra Arriaga/Sun-Times

Alma Biggs, Pilsen

“He shot him 16 times, that was excessive. I thought he should have gotten first degree. But I’m still happy … I was praying and hoping that no rioting or nobody gets hurt or anything, so it’s been kind of quiet, no one has gotten hurt.”

Andre Cotton | Maria de la Guardia/Sun-Times

Andre Cotton, West Side

“Let God’s will be done in America and Chicago because fairness is fairness. Justice has been served.”

Gregory Davis | Maria de la Guardia/Sun-Times

Gregory Davis, 56, West Side

“I felt it should have been first-degree murder because when [Van Dyke] first shot him, the guy is laying on the ground already. That was unnecessary to pump 16 bullets into somebody who is just laying there … It was manslaughter to me. If they try to sentence him to like two years, three years or six years, people are going to be upset.”

Tammy Fitz | Matthew Hendrickson/Sun-Times

Tammy Fitz, 40, Bucktown

“I was pleased with the verdict; I think it was in line with how I felt, that he went beyond what a reasonable person would do in that situation.”

Charlie Giglia | Matthew Hendrickson/Sun-Times

Charlie Giglia, 34, Hermosa

“Everyone was talking about it, and everyone was watching today. When I left work [downtown] felt emptier … I felt relief. It felt like finally there was justice for once.”

Justine Harlan | Matthew Hendrickson/Sun-Times

Justine Harlan, 45, Hermosa

“I felt like justice had been served, but there was no joy in it … I know people were nervous [about the protests], but I didn’t think anything bad would happen. I work downtown. They gave us the option to leave early. I found it kind of hysterical.”

Gabor Hizo | Alexandra Arriaga/Sun-Times

Gabor Hizo, 31, Pilsen

“The evidence and the actions of the police officer don’t seem to me to be a second-degree murder. There were other officers that kept their composure. He kind of just came in and shot at will … This is a small win, but overall people should be out there and continually fighting for what is fair.”

Elifalet Lopez | Alexandra Arriaga/Sun-Times

Elifalet Lopez, 30, Pilsen

“[McDonald] had a knife, so it was [Van Dyke’s] decision he made to shoot the entire gun into his body. He should have shot maybe one or two, not to kill him.”

Markus Olson | Nader Issa/Sun-Times

Markus Olson, 34, Lake View

“I understand why people were out there celebrating. I hope it kind of turns things around for how people view people shootings … Just because you’re a police officer doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want.”

James Peculis | Nader Issa/Sun-Times

James Peculis, 27, South Loop

“One day and one day alone we saw the justice system actually work. I was expecting not guilty because the justice system has failed too many times … This gives Chicago hope.”

Robert Surrock | Alexandra Arriaga/Sun-Times

Robert Surrock, 50, West Loop

“I agree with the second degree, there was no premeditation whatsoever, I don’t believe that. But yeah, 16 shots is just too many, hands down too many.”

Contributing: Alexandra Arriaga, Maria de la Guardia, Paul Biasco, Matthew Hendrickson, Nader Issa and Frank Main

Click to see links to verdict-related stories.


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