Attorney General Kwame Raoul ‘reviewing’ Van Dyke sentence

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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office says it is reviewing the legality of the sentence handed down last week to former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke for the murder of Laquan McDonald.

“We are going to do a careful review of the record and the law and make a determination based on our review,” Maura Possley, a spokeswoman for the office, said Wednesday afternoon.

Raoul, sworn in as attorney general this month, would not say whether he believes Van Dyke’s punishment is fair.

Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan last Friday sentenced Van Dyke to 81 months in prison — less than half of what prosecutors had sought. Van Dyke could be released in three years.

Outside the courtroom, Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon said he was “satisfied” with the sentence.

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“We achieved our goal of justice and holding Jason Van Dyke accountable for his actions,” McMahon said.

But many police-accountability activists viewed the sentence as a setback.

A jury in October convicted Van Dyke of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, one for each shot into McDonald.

Some legal experts say the best way to challenge Van Dyke’s sentence would be to seek a “mandamus” order from the Illinois Supreme Court. That court could find Gaughan violated the law by basing the punishment on the second-degree murder count, a Class 1 felony, instead of the battery counts, which carry a more serious designation, Class X.

A spokesman for McMahon on Wednesday said the special prosecutor is “still reviewing” the sentence. The spokesman would not say whether McMahon asked McDonald’s mother, Tina Hunter, for her view on whether the sentence should be challenged.

McDonald’s great uncle Rev. Marvin Hunter, the family’s spokesman, said “justice was not served” and accused Gaughan of treating Van Dyke as if the crime were a “minor drug offense.”

A staffer in Gaughan’s chambers on Wednesday said the judge declined to comment on the sentencing.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx did not answer what she thinks of the sentence or whether she would play a role in challenging it. A consideration for Foxx is her predecessor Anita Alvarez’s recusal of the office from the case after civil-rights groups accused her of pro-police bias.

Locke Bowman, an attorney who led the push for a special prosecutor in the case, said the Supreme Court has authority to toss out Gaughan’s “illegal” ruling that second-degree murder is the greater offense.

“If you turned the tables and if a young African-American man had regrettably fired 16 shots at a Chicago police officer and killed him,” Bowman said, “the judicial system would impose a massively punitive sentence.”

On Thursday, Van Dyke’s attorney slammed Raoul for reviewing the sentence.

“Another politician has chosen to exploit the tragic death of Laquan McDonald for his own political gain,” the attorney, Dan Herbert, said in a statement. “The judge in this case carefully considered the arguments made and issued the correct ruling under the law.”Van Dyke’s defense team says it is exploring its own options for challenging the sentence as well as the conviction.

Van Dyke began shooting McDonald, 17, as the teen carried a knife and walked away from officers on a South Side road in 2014. Many of the 16 shots hit the teen after he had collapsed to the pavement.

A police dashcam video contradicted reports by officers that McDonald was attacking Van Dyke.

Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson last week acquitted three officers of charges they covered up for Van Dyke

Two men, including one carrying rifle while running through Oak Park neighborhood, captured by police

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Two men, including one caught on video carrying a rifle while running through an Oak Park neighborhood, were apprehended by police on Wednesday morning, according to Oak Park police. Officials said the men were seen abandoning a stolen car that fit the description of a vehicle involved in a shots-fired incident reported earlier in Chicago.

Oak Park police said the men were being followed by authorities while they drove in the area. Police said that shortly after 8 a.m., the men exited the dark-colored car near the intersection of Jackson Boulevard and Maple Avenue in western Oak Park, and then ran in different directions through the neighborhood. Police said a video from a security camera at a nearby home showed one of the men was carrying what police described as a rifle.

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According to Oak Park police, the men were quickly taken into custody, and both were turned over to the Chicago Police Department. Police also said a weapon was recovered.

Chicago police said the stolen car had earlier struck two squad cars and fled west from the 4000 block of West Monroe Street. The car was also wanted in connection with a previous shots fired call in the area, police said.

No information was available about whether they had been charged as of Wednesday morning.

No injuries were reported, and no shots were fired in Oak Park, police said.

Oak Park police stated that gun shots had been reported earlier in the morning in Chicago, and a car fitting that description by Chicago police was spotted in Oak Park. The car was traveling west on Jackson Boulevard, with police following at a slow speed, when the car apparently had a mechanical problem, which prompted the men to get out of the car and run off, police said.

Chris Brown released after rape claim

The police are still investigating the case, the French prosecutor’s office added on Tuesday.

The arrests were first reported by Closer magazine, which said Brown, his bodyguard and a friend were detained after a 24-year-old woman alleged she was raped at the singer’s suite at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on the night of January 15.

The woman said she had met the men at a Paris nightclub earlier in the evening, according to the magazine.

 

Chicago inspectors find code violations at R. Kelly’s studio

CHICAGO — Chicago building inspectors have found code violations at R. Kelly’s recording studio, including evidence the industrial space was used as a residence.

Building Department spokesman Gregg Cunningham says the agency will list the violations during a court hearing next week. He says the inspectors were looking at plumbing, electrical systems and carpentry.

Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenburg, says no one was living at the studio and it should not be surprising that it included places for sleeping or taking breaks.

Kelly has been hit in recent weeks with sexual misconduct allegations. The Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” recently drew fresh attention to the allegations and the #MeToo and #MuteRKelly movements have held protests outside the studio demanding promoters stop booking his concerts.

Greenburg says the inspectors didn’t find anything supporting misconduct by Kelly.

Medical marijuana Super Bowl ad rejected by CBS

The company described its Super Bowl commercial as more of a public service announcement.

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A medical marijuana company said its ad planned for Super Bowl Sunday was rejected by CBS.

Acreage Holdings told USA TODAY it made a 60-second ad featuring three individuals who say their lives have improved by using medical marijuana.

The company described the commercial as more of a public service announcement than an advertisement.

Acreage said the rejection came after its ad agency sent storyboards to the network.

The company told USA TODAY it received a return email that said: “CBS will not be accepting any ads for medical marijuana at this time.”

A CBS spokesperson confirmed to USA TODAY that it does not currently accept cannabis-related advertising.

According to USA TODAY, the spot focuses on a Colorado boy who suffers from Dravet syndrome, a Buffalo man who was on opioids for 15 years after back surgeries, and an Oakland veteran who lost part of his leg during military service.

At the end of the commercial viewers are then asked to call on their congressional representatives to call on change.

Acreage said it expects to post the ad online once it’s finished.

CBS is reportedly charging around $5.2 million for a 30-second ad during this year’s Super Bow

Jason Van Dyke, ex-Chicago officer, sentenced to 6 years, 9 months for killing Laquan McDonald

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The former Chicago police officer convicted in the murder of a black teenager who was shot 16 times as he walked away was sentenced Friday to 6 years, 9 months.

Jason Van Dyke’s punishment was far less than the minimum of 18 years that prosecutors were seeking, although state sentencing guidelines allowed for as many as 96 years or more — the equivalent of six years served consecutively for each shot.

A jury in October found Van Dyke, 40, guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the death of Laquan McDonald, 17.

On the night of the shooting in October 2014, Van Dyke and other officers were responding to reports that McDonald was carrying a knife and breaking into cars in the city’s Southwest Side. Van Dyke at his trial testified that he feared for his life when he encountered the teenager, who was holding a folded knife.

But dashcam footage showed that Van Dyke was moving closer toward McDonald, while the teenager was veering away from officers in the middle of the street.

McDonald’s death sparked racial tensions, a federal investigation and political upheaval in the city, and the video was released following intense public pressure and calls from activists for police accountability.

The last time a Chicago police officer was convicted of murder for an on-duty killing was more than 50 years ago.

Van Dyke’s defense team had requested probation for the 13-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, and submitted more than 100 letters from family, friends and co-workers who noted he had no prior criminal record and deserved leniency.

At the sentencing hearing, the Rev. Martin Hunter, McDonald’s great uncle, spoke on behalf of the family and read a letter that was written as if McDonald had penned it.

“Please think about me and about my life when you sentence this person to prison,” Hunter read. “Why should this person be free, when I am dead forever?”

The prosecution also highlighted complaints against Van Dyke for allegedly using excessive force and featured testimony from minorities who claimed he abused their civil rights during arrests.

Edward Nance, who won a $350,000 civil judgment after his arrest by Van Dyke and his partner during a 2007 traffic stop, cried on the stand as he explained how he was manhandled and remains “in constant pain, every day” from the incident.

Despite about 20 complaints against him, Van Dyke was never disciplined during his career.

His sentencing came a day after three Chicago police officers were found not guilty of conspiring to protect him following the shooting — a case that drew attention to a “code of silence” that has long plagued the department.

Carey Kelly tells in an interview how him and R. Kelly were molested by older sister for years during childhood.

It’s more to this “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary that aired on “Lifetime” but I feel it’s much more of a psychological issue that needs to be solved. Instead of pointing the finger…. Let’s HELP and fix the problem. More to come on #BHRELIVE

Surviving R. Kelly: Ex wife Drea Kelly tells her story to ABC Nightline

Surviving R. Kelly is Lifetime’s new documentary series that, over a course of three nights, will tell the harrowing stories of sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated by famous R&B singer, R. Kelly. One of the most riveting accounts in the series comes from Andrea Kelly, a woman who first shared her story of alleged abuse by Kelly last summer. But exactly who is Andrea Kelly, and how is her story relevant to the series?

According to PeopleAndrea Kelly was married to R. Kelly from 1996 to 2009, and she is the mother to his three children. She met Kelly in 1994 when she auditioned as a backup dancer for his shows. Eventually, Andrea went on to marry Kelly and became a creative director and choreographer for many of his world tours and performances. According to her own website, Andrea is a trained dancer from Chicago who now advocates on behalf of women who have suffered from domestic violence.

After 15 years of marriage, Andrea finalized her divorce from Kelly in 2009, but it wasn’t until last summer that she publicly detailed abuses she allegedly faced at the hands of her ex-husband. In an interview with TV One’s Sister Circle daytime talk show in June of 2018, Andrea broke her silence and described the incidentsthat led her to leave the marriage. “We got divorced because I was no longer going to sit and be violated,” Andrea said in the interview. “What he did to me was criminal.”

R. Kelly did not immediately respond to Romper’s request for comment

In October of 2018, Andrea made an appearance on The View in which she revealed what prompted her to finally speak out about her relationship with Kelly. She said that she heard the story of another Kelly accuser on a TV show and found the women’s story to be exactly the same as her own.

“It was just something about that that pierced my spirit, and I was like if no one else is going to speak up for her, if no one else is going to believe her, at least she knows that I do,” Andrea told The View panel. “It’s about saving lives. You cannot not speak when someone’s life and what they’ve been through is parallel to yours — It’s different when you hear words that ring true to your spirit because you’ve survived it and been through it.”

Andrea’s accounts will be featured in Lifetime’s new documentary, alongside the testimony of other Kelly accusers and people from his inner circle. In a clip for the series, Andrea gives insight into what went through her mind when she suffered the alleged abuse by Kelly. “You don’t even believe in your own sense of judgement after a while, and you’re trying to figure out ‘How do I get him back to the good space?’ ” she says in the clip. “I’ll just take responsibility for it, I’ll just say it’s my fault. I’ll say yes to whatever it is, I’ll apologize, because if I could just get him back to the good guy, the one that I fell in love with, then I’m in a good space.”

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Surviving R. Kelly premieres on Thursday, Jan. 3 at 9 p.m. ET on Lifetime, with two additional hours premiering on Friday, Jan. 4, at 9 p.m. ET, and the final installment airing on Saturday, Jan. 5, at 9 p.m. ET.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.