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Jason Van Dyke Faces Murder In A City That Rarely Convicts Its Police

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Jason Van Dyke Faces Murder In A City That Rarely Convicts Its Police
It's been fifty years since a Chicago police officer was convicted of a murder charge for an on-duty shooting.
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It's been fifty years since a Chicago police officer was convicted of a murder charge for an on-duty shooting — that's according to the Chicago Tribune. 

Since then, countless police involved shootings have taken place in the city, but convictions of officers remain a rarity. 

In what could be a historic ruling, Jason Van Dyke is currently on trial for shooting and killing Laquan McDonald four years ago on the southwest side of Chicago. 

"By both advocating and ultimately winning a court order that lead to the release of the video I think it has really impacted our public conversation around police abuse both in the city and beyond," University of Chicago's Craig Futterman said. 

Craig Futterman is a University of Chicago law professor who helped advocate for the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video. He says the indictment alone is significant.

"It was the first time even within my lifetime that an on-duty Chicago police officer was ever charged and criminally prosecuted for shooting a black man, woman or child. I mean, people gloss over that. That's a first. And I can start listing off a number of other firsts or near first that have occurred and at the same point," Futterman said. 

Along with several incidents across the country, Chicago specifically has seen a number of these high profile police-involved shootings occur with very little in the way of consequences for the officers involved. 

Bettie Jones and Quintonio Legrier were both shot and killed by Chicago police officer Robert Rialmo back in 2015. While the shooting was ruled "unjustified" by an independent review board (Civilian Office of Police Accountability), Officer Rialmo did not face charges and is still employed by CPD.

This shooting came just one month after the video of Laquan McDonald being shot was released to the public.

In 2012, Rekia Boyd was shot in the head by off-duty CPD officer Dante Servin. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter but was ultimately cleared of all charges.  

"If we don't finally address the underlying conditions that have allowed Chicago police officers to abuse Black folks with impunity we'll have the same conversation just a couple years later," Futterman said.

In July, city and state officials released a more than 200 page consent decree draft. This plan is meant to reform the CPD over a number of years under federal court supervision. If all goes as planned, the new policies will take effect in July 2019.