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Jason Van Dyke plans to appeal conviction, attorney says


CHICAGO — Jason Van Dyke’s lead defense attorney, Dan Herbert, said his team is moving forward with sentencing procedures and plans to appeal Van Dyke’s conviction.

Herbert spoke with WGN’s Larry Potash and Sarah Jindra in studio Monday about the Van Dyke trial, which ended Friday when Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 accounts of aggravated battery in the Oct. 20, 2014, slaying of Laquan McDonald. The 17-year-old was shot 16 times after a truck driver called 911 to report him inside a locked truck lot. The teen was armed with a 3-inch knife and high on PCP.

“We’re going to ask the court to dismiss the verdict based upon the fact that the evidence did not support the verdict in this case,” Herbert said.

Defense attorneys previously filed motions to have Van Dyke’s trial moved out of Cook County, arguing it would be impossible to find a fair jury in Chicago. Herbert now says he feels “even more strong” that jurors in this case were biased, based on their post-trial interviews.

Van Dyke’s second-degree murder conviction carries a possible sentence of four to 20 years in prison; probation is also an option. Each of the 16 counts of aggravated battery carries a sentence of six to 30 years in prison. It has not yet been determined whether the sentences can be served consecutively or concurrently.

“They will be all concurrent,” Herbert said. “Sixteen shots is the same as one shot. Based upon my client not having any criminal background, I don’t see any reason why he would not get the absolute minimum sentence of six years.”

Herbert also addressed criticism over a 3D animation of the shooting that was commissioned by defense attorneys. It was designed, in part, to show the shooting from Van Dyke’s perspective.

“The reason we wanted that video is because it showed the opposite of what the narrative has been in this case,” Herbert said. “Prosecutors were not able to dispute it that [McDonald], in fact, closed the distance from 39 feet to 13 feet within seconds.”

Herbert on Friday said the day marked “a sad day for law enforcement.” In studio Monday, he said “[law enforcement’s] job just got a lot easier, frankly.”

The attorney said the U.S. Department of Justice’s reforms to the Chicago Police Department will be an improvement to “horrible” previous training: “De-escalation is going to be a central theme of policing going forward.”

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