Demonstrations were held all over Chicago Tuesday night to protest last year's shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Dash cam footage released hours before people took to the streets reportedly show Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting the teen a total of 16 times. The former police officer currently stands as the first law enforcement official to be charged with murder in Chicago's history. So, who is Jason Van Dyke? The 14-year police veteran has a surprisingly spotty history with the department.
Van Dyke began his career with the Chicago Police Department in 2001, spending his four years as part of a specialized unit deployed to high crime areas. He then began patrolling Englewood, a neighborhood similarly known for its dangerous reputation. It was in Englewood that Van Dyke received his first of well over a dozen citizen complaints. Many of the allegations filed against him were for excessive force, including a 2007 incident involving Ed Nance, who was injured after being handcuffed during a traffic stop. Nance suffered injuries to both shoulders and was eventually awarded $350,000 following a federal jury ruling in favor of his account that Van Dyke had indeed used excessive force.
According to official documents, Van Dyke has also been accused of using racial epithets multiple times as well as reportedly choking a man in 2011. Perhaps even more ominously, the former police officer also had a complaint filed against him in 2008 for reportedly drawing his gun unnecessarily at a man that he was arresting. All of those complaints were not sustained, however.
Very little is known about Van Dyke outside of his career in law enforcement. His lawyer, Dan Herbert, has mentioned that Van Dyke is married and has two children, ages 9 and 14. Van Dyke was reportedly born and raised in Chicago. His wife, Tiffany Van Dyke, has established a GoFundMe campaign to help bail her husband out of jail. The page raised over $10,000 before it was removed from GoFundMe's website for violating their terms and conditions.
A hearing was set for Van Dyke on Tuesday and resulted in the former police officer being held without bond. His charges were subsequently announced with the release of dash cam video of the incident, including a first-degree murder charge that carries a minimum sentence of two decades.