Ex-Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke is set to leave prison on Thursday after being locked up less than four years in the city that witnessed the first murder conviction of a cop for an on-duty shooting in a half century, the Associated Press reports. Many Chicagoans hoped Van Dyke’s 2018 conviction of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery signaled a willingness to hold officers accountable. Word that he’s being set free after serving three years and four months of his sentence of six years and nine months has hurt the victims. Chicago is experiencing a surge in homicides, with more last year than in any of in the last quarter century and nearly twice as many as were reported in 2014, the year Van Dyke killed Laquan McDonald.
The city continues to pay multi-million settlements to victims of police abuse. Just this week, prosecutors said they would vacate the convictions of nearly 50 more people who were framed or falsely accused by police of drug crimes. The city refused to release the police video of the teen’s killing for more than a year and only did so after a judge ordered it to do so. It now must release such videos within 60 days. Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago law professor who helped lead the push to force the city to release the video, calls the Van Dyke sentence “a slap in the face for Black folks and those of us who care about police accountability.”