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By Erik Ortiz
The wife of Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago police officer convicted in the murder of teenager Laquan McDonald, said her husband has been attacked in prison after he was unexpectedly transferred to an out-of-state facility.
“We are all petrified and in fear for Jason’s life,” Tiffany Van Dyke told The Chicago Sun-Times in an interview Wednesday. “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.”
Tiffany Van Dyke, who plans to hold a news conference Thursday morning to condemn the assault, said it occurred at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, a low-security prison that houses both men and women. (High-profile names, including singer Lauryn Hill and the late hotel tycoon Leona Helmsley, have served time there for tax-related troubles.)
Jason Van Dyke, 40, was being held in an undisclosed state prison in Illinois since his sentencing on Jan. 18 of second-degree murder, which carries a punishment of nearly seven years behind bars.
But he was transferred to Connecticut last week, which his family and attorneys didn’t know until a day or two later, according to the Sun-Times.
While Jason Van Dyke was kept in isolation in Illinois, he was placed in the general population in Connecticut and was beaten up by inmates in his cell about four hours after he arrived, his lawyers said.
They said they received an anonymous call from an employee at the prison who said he was worried about the former officer’s safety, the Sun-Times said.
Jason Van Dyke, who is white, shot McDonald, who was black, 16 times during an encounter on a Chicago street in October 2014. The incident was captured on a police dashboard camera, sparking racial tensions, a federal investigation and political upheaval in the city.
The last time a Chicago police officer was convicted of murder for an on-duty killing was more than 50 years ago.
Prosecutors had sought a minimum of 18 years for the shooting, but the judge’s sentencing was based on a count of second-degree murder conviction and not the 16 counts of aggravated battery, which would have carried more prison time. On Monday, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said he would challenge the judge’s sentence.