White Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder on Friday for the 2014 shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald, a case that laid bare tensions between the black community and the police department in the third-largest US city.
Van Dyke, 40, was accused of shooting 17-year-old McDonald, who was armed with a knife, 16 times. Van Dyke was charged with murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct.
The conviction on the lesser charge of second-degree murder suggests the jury credited Van Dyke's claim that he believed there was a threat but found his belief was unreasonable.
A dashboard camera video, released more than a year after the Oct. 20, 2014, shooting in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by a journalist, showed police gunning down McDonald who fell to the ground.
Van Dyke, who could be sentenced to life in prison, is the first Chicago police officer to face a murder charge for an on-duty incident in decades.
The killings of mostly unarmed black men at hands of police, some of which were captured on video, helped give rise to the Black Lives Matter movement and became an issue in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
The video of McDonald's shooting sparked days of protests in Chicago, led to the dismissal of the city's police superintendent and calls for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel resignation.
Jury deliberations began on Thursday afternoon
Van Dyke, who faces life in prison, was the first Chicago police officer to be charged with murder for an on-duty incident in decades.
Illinois state judge Vincent Gaughan oversaw the trial in Cook County circuit court.
During the three-week trial, prosecutors repeatedly showed the dashboard camera video, arguing to jurors that it clearly showed McDonald, who was carrying a knife, was not moving toward Van Dyke at the time the officer began shooting.
Van Dyke testified in his own defence, saying he feared for his safety and fired because McDonald was advancing on him. Both the officer and his lawyers argued that the video, which was taken from the side, did not reflect the incident from his perspective.
Defence lawyers also portrayed McDonald as a dangerous armed criminal under the influence of a drug.
City officials resisted releasing the video publicly but eventually did so in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by a journalists. The video sparked days of protests, led to the firing of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and prompted calls for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign.
The 12-person jury included one black member.
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