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Wife of imprisoned Chicago officer fears he's in danger

Published
Tiffany Van Dyke, wife of former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, speaks during a news conference at attorney Daniel Herbert's office in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.  Van Dyke, who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald was assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison, the officer's wife said Wednesday.  He was transferred earlier this month to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. He told his lawyers he was placed in the prison's general population hours after his arrival and was assaulted there, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.  (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

CHICAGO (AP) — The wife of a Chicago police officer who was convicted of fatally shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald demanded on Thursday to know why her husband was transferred from an Illinois state prison where he was kept from harm to a federal prison in Connecticut where he was assaulted and where she fears he is still in danger.

"I don't need people to go into his cell and attack him," said an emotional Tiffany Van Dyke at a news conference. "The next time this could happen, they could kill him. I cannot bury my husband."

The Illinois Department of Corrections confirmed Thursday that Jason Van Dyke was moved to federal custody but would not say why. Asked about the attack on Van Dyke, the federal Bureau of Prisons said in an email that it could confirm "an assault resulting in minor injuries" occurred on Feb. 7. The bureau declined to provide additional information, citing privacy concerns.

Van Dyke, who is white, was convicted in October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery for shooting McDonald 16 times in 2014. He was sentenced last month to six years and nine months in prison.

Van Dyke was attacked by another inmate after his transfer to the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, appellate attorney Jennifer Blagg said in an interview Thursday. Blagg said Van Dyke was not severely injured and has since been placed in a segregated unit away from most inmates as a precaution.

Blagg said she learned of the attack when she and another attorney were on the phone with Van Dyke talking a request the state's attorney general filed asking the Illinois Supreme Court to review Van Dyke's sentence.

"We were explaining to him what it meant ... when he said another inmate had jumped him and landed a few punches," Blagg said.

Blagg didn't appear at a news conference Thursday with Tiffany Van Dyke and trial attorneys Dan Herbert and Tammy Wendt, who expressed concern that Jason Van Dyke had been placed in the prison's general population with other inmates. They said former police officers would be particularly vulnerable to attack from other inmates — something Tiffany Van Dyke and others told a judge about during her husband's sentencing hearing. While imprisoned in Illinois, Van Dyke had been kept in a segregated unit.

"It was as if he was led like a lamb to slaughter," said Wendt of the attack that she said occurred within four hours of Van Dyke's arrival to the general population unit.

Van Dyke is the first Chicago police officer in a half century convicted of murder in an on-duty shooting. He was sentenced in January to six years and nine months in prison — a sentence that angered activists. This week, the state's attorney general and the special prosecutor who handled the case and asked the judge to impose a sentence of 18 to 20 years asked the Illinois Supreme Court to review the sentence.

Absent a new sentence, Van Dyke will likely serve only about three years, with credit for good behavior.

Tiffany Van Dyke said the assault was a realization of her worst fears and noted the widespread media attention his case has received in explaining why her husband might still be in danger even though he's imprisoned several states away.

"My husband's life, my family's life is national news," she said. "At the basic minimum, they were supposed to keep him safe."

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For the AP's complete coverage of the Jason Van Dyke case: https://apnews.com/tag/LaquanMcDonald

FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2019 file photo, former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke attends his sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, for the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald. The wife of the white Chicago police officer who fatally shot the black teenager McDonald said on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, that her husband has been assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Tiffany Van Dyke says Jason Van Dyke had been placed in the prison's general population before being assaulted. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool, File)
Tiffany Van Dyke, wife of former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, speaks during a news conference at attorney Daniel Herbert's office in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.  Van Dyke, who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald was assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison, the officer's wife said Wednesday.  He was transferred earlier this month to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. He told his lawyers he was placed in the prison's general population hours after his arrival and was assaulted there, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.  (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
Tiffany Van Dyke, wife of former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, looks on as attorney Daniel Herbert speaks during a news conference in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.  Jason Van Dyke, who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald was assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison, the officer's wife said Wednesday.  He was transferred earlier this month to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. He told his lawyers he was placed in the prison's general population hours after his arrival and was assaulted there, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.  (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
Tiffany Van Dyke, wife of a white Chicago police officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald speaks during a news conference Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Chicago as her attorneys Tammy Wendt, left, and Dan Herbert listen. Van Dyke says her husband has been assaulted by inmates in his Connecticut prison cell. Van Dyke was jailed in Rock Island, Illinois, before the move this month to the low-security prison in Danbury, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
Tiffany Van Dyke, right, wife of a white Chicago police officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald, speaks during a news conference Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Chicago as her attorney Tammy Wendt listens. Van Dyke says her husband has been assaulted by inmates in his Connecticut prison cell. Van Dyke was jailed in Rock Island, Illinois, before the move this month to the low-security prison in Danbury, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
Tiffany Van Dyke, wife of a white Chicago police officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald speaks during a news conference Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Chicago as her attorneys Tammy Wendt, left, and Dan Herbert listen. Van Dyke says her husband has been assaulted by inmates in his Connecticut prison cell. Van Dyke was jailed in Rock Island, Illinois, before the move this month to the low-security prison in Danbury, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
Tiffany Van Dyke, wife of a white Chicago police officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald speaks during a news conference Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Chicago as her attorneys Tammy Wendt, left, and Dan Herbert listen. Van Dyke says her husband has been assaulted by inmates in his Connecticut prison cell. Van Dyke was jailed in Rock Island, Illinois, before the move this month to the low-security prison in Danbury, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
Tiffany Van Dyke, right, wife of a white Chicago police officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald, speaks during a news conference Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Chicago as her attorney Tammy Wendt listens. Van Dyke says her husband has been assaulted by inmates in his Connecticut prison cell. Van Dyke was jailed in Rock Island, Illinois, before the move this month to the low-security prison in Danbury, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
Tiffany Van Dyke, right, wife of a white Chicago police officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald, speaks during a news conference Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Chicago as her attorney Tammy Wendt listens. Van Dyke says her husband has been assaulted by inmates in his Connecticut prison cell. Van Dyke was jailed in Rock Island, Illinois, before the move this month to the low-security prison in Danbury, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
Tiffany Van Dyke, wife of former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, looks on as attorney Daniel Herbert speaks during a news conference in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.  Jason Van Dyke, who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald was assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison, the officer's wife said Wednesday.  He was transferred earlier this month to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. He told his lawyers he was placed in the prison's general population hours after his arrival and was assaulted there, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.  (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
Tiffany Van Dyke, wife of former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, looks on as attorney Daniel Herbert speaks during a news conference in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Jason Van Dyke, who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald was assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison, the officer's wife said Wednesday. He was transferred earlier this month to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. He told his lawyers he was placed in the prison's general population hours after his arrival and was assaulted there, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
Tiffany Van Dyke, wife of former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, speaks during a news conference at attorney Daniel Herbert's office in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.  Van Dyke, who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald was assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison, the officer's wife said Wednesday.  He was transferred earlier this month to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. He told his lawyers he was placed in the prison's general population hours after his arrival and was assaulted there, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.  (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
Tiffany Van Dyke, wife of former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, speaks during a news conference at attorney Daniel Herbert's office in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Van Dyke, who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald was assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison, the officer's wife said Wednesday. He was transferred earlier this month to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. He told his lawyers he was placed in the prison's general population hours after his arrival and was assaulted there, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
Tiffany Van Dyke, wife of former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, speaks during a news conference at attorney Daniel Herbert's office in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.  Van Dyke, who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald was assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison, the officer's wife said Wednesday.  He was transferred earlier this month to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. He told his lawyers he was placed in the prison's general population hours after his arrival and was assaulted there, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.  (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
Tiffany Van Dyke, wife of former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, speaks during a news conference at attorney Daniel Herbert's office in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Van Dyke, who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald was assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison, the officer's wife said Wednesday. He was transferred earlier this month to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. He told his lawyers he was placed in the prison's general population hours after his arrival and was assaulted there, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2019 file photo, former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke attends his sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, for the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald. The wife of the white Chicago police officer who fatally shot the black teenager McDonald said on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, that her husband has been assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Tiffany Van Dyke says Jason Van Dyke had been placed in the prison's general population before being assaulted. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2019 file photo, former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke attends his sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, for the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald. The wife of the white Chicago police officer who fatally shot the black teenager McDonald said on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, that her husband has been assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Tiffany Van Dyke says Jason Van Dyke had been placed in the prison's general population before being assaulted. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool, File)