Family of Ex-Cop Convicted for Murdering Laquan McDonald Say He Was Beaten In Prison, Fear for His Safety

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CHICAGO (AP) — A white Chicago police officer who fatally shot Black teenager Laquan McDonald was assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison, the officer’s wife said Wednesday.

Jason Van Dyke was transferred earlier this month to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. He was placed in the prison’s general population hours after his arrival and was assaulted there, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Jason Van Dyke
FILE – In this Jan. 18, 2019 file photo, former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke attends his sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, for the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald.  (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool, File)

“We are all petrified and in fear for Jason’s life,” his wife, Tiffany Van Dyke, told the newspaper. “Jason just wants to serve his sentence. He does not want any trouble. I hope prison officials will take steps to rectify this right away. He never should have been in the general population.”

A spokesperson for the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury wasn’t available for comment when The Associated Press called on Wednesday night. However, in a statement obtained by USA Today, Tiffany said her husband suffered from facial injuries.  The family became aware of the attack after an employee at the prison placed an anonymous call providing details of the incident and expressing concern for Van Dyke’s safety.

“Jason runs into problems because of what he represents and there are inmates who resent that and would be proud to say they are the guy that beat him up or hurt him,” said Jennifer Blagg, a member of Van Dyke’s defense team to USA TODAY. “We’re obviously concerned because what he’s come to symbolize.”

A Cook County, Illinois, jury in October found Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm for the 2014 killing of McDonald, who was shot 16 times. In January, Van Dyke was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison.

Prosecutors on Monday asked the Illinois Supreme Court to review the sentence. They said they believe Judge Vincent Gaughan improperly applied the law when sentencing Van Dyke.

Absent a new sentence, Van Dyke will likely serve only about three years, with credit for good behavior.

Van Dyke was being held at the Rock Island County Jail in Rock Island, Illinois, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) west of Chicago, before the move to the low-security Connecticut prison. County authorities said he was kept out of the Illinois jail’s general population.

Associated Press contributed to this story.

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