CHICAGO - Former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke will not face federal charges for the murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, U.S. Attorney John Lausch’s office confirmed in a highly unusual statement Monday.
"U.S. Attorney Lausch has spoken with a representative of Mr. McDonald’s family on multiple occasions over the past three years. … The family was in agreement not to pursue a second prosecution, and the office respects their position," the announcement read.
The seven-paragraph statement also cited Van Dyke’s 81-month prison sentence — of which he served more than three years — as well as the consent decree prompted by McDonald’s death that now governs the Chicago Police Department.
"There is a significant prospect that a second prosecution would diminish the important results already achieved," Lausch’s office said.
The feds noted that "a federal trial would not be a retrial of the state case. There is no general murder charge under federal law that would apply. Federal prosecutors would need to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Van Dyke willfully deprived Mr. McDonald of a constitutional right."
Prosecutors would have to prove Van Dyke’s actions "were not the result of mistake, fear, negligence, or bad judgment," it continued.
"It requires federal prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what Mr. Van Dyke was thinking when he used deadly force, and that he knew such force was excessive," the statement read. "The federal law presents a very high bar — more stringent than the state charges on which Mr. Van Dyke was convicted."
Van Dyke left prison in February following his 2018 state-court conviction for second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each bullet he fired at McDonald on Oct. 20, 2014.