The wife of embattled Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke insists her husband is no murderer and that the city is using him as a “political scapegoat.”
Wiping away tears, Tiffany Van Dyke described the roller coaster of emotions she’s felt as her husband of 14 years prepares for trial in the death of 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald. Van Dyke, who claims he acted in self-defense, fired at the teen 16 times and was later charged with first-degree murder.
The high-stakes murder trial is set to begin Monday, and Tiffany says her husband is absolutely “petrified.” If convicted, he could face, at minimum, 45 years in prison— a harsh reality for Tiffany and the couple’s two daughters, ages 12 and 16.
“They do know that the outcome is that their father may never come home after this,” she said in an emotional interview with WGN Chicago. “My daughter is a junior — he may never see her graduate high school. Weddings. Grandkids.”
“So, they get it. They get the seriousness,” she added.
Tiffany Van Dyke said the controversy around her husband’s actions has cost the family their home, their jobs and peace of mind as they prepare for the reality that the Chicago officer could be headed to jail.
Police dashcam video from that fateful night, Oct. 20, 2014, poked holes in the Chicago Police Department’s original claim that McDonald, who was armed with knife, had lunged at officers. The footage showed Van Dyke arrive at the scene and within seconds unload 16 bullets into the teen as he walked away from police. No other officers at the scene fired their weapons.
After taking more than a year to investigate the case, Chicago authorities filed murder charges against Van Dyke on Nov. 24, 2015, the same day that they complied with a judge’s order forcing the city to release dashcam footage of the shooting to the public.
Speaking to WGN Chicago, Tiffany says her husband cried to her on the couch after the deadly shooting. At least 20 civilian complaints were filed against Van Dyke during his 14 years on the force, with none resulting in discipline against him.
“He’s a human being,” she said. “He’s just a man. He did his job. He did what he was trained to do by the city of Chicago.”
Tiffany said she and husband are still shocked by the accusations of racism and pointed out that her brother-in-law is Black American and her stepmother is Latina. She also expressed disdain for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who announced he wouldn’t run for a third term one day before jurors in the case headed to court.
“It’s straight politics,” she said, her eyes narrowing in anger. “From the top man himself down to the brass — Rahm Emanuel, (former State’s Attorney) Anita Alvarez, the top brass of the police department. This was politically motivated.”
“I don’t want to speak to mayor. I don’t ever want to see Mayor Emanuel,” she added.
Watch more in the video below.