The Illinois attorney general’s office is to review the jail term given to former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke over the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald.
Van Dyke was sentenced to seven years but, with credit for good behaviour, is likely to serve only around three years for firing 16 bullets into McDonald in 2014.
Dashcam video of the shooting released in 2015 showed Van Dyke continued to fire as the 17-year-old crumpled to the street and laid on the ground.
The case went largely unnoticed until the city was forced to release police dashcam video 13 months after it happened.
The video sparked large protests and led to the ousting of Chicago’s top police official and some department reforms.
Activist William Calloway, who helped force the city to release the video, echoed the sentiment of many Chicago residents last week when he said the punishment imposed by Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan amounted to “a slap on the wrist”.
Van Dyke’s lawyer Dan Herbert criticised Illinois attorney general Kwame Raoul for appearing to contemplate an appeal, saying his office could have weighed in before last Friday’s sentencing and presented its views to the judge.
“Now he suddenly has concerns after the sentencing in the wake of some public outcry,” Mr Herbert said. “This is about politics not the law.”
How Van Dyke was charged and his lack of a previous criminal record further complicated calculations.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to hand the 40-year-old a sentence of between 18 and 20 years, saying in an earlier written filing that there could be an argument for a sentence of up to 96 years.
The defence said giving Van Dyke no prison time and putting him on probation would have been appropriate.
An attorney general’s office spokeswoman, Maura Possley, offered no details in her brief statement, including about potential lines of arguments in an appeal, saying only: “We are going to do a careful review of the record and the law and make a determination based on our review.”