3 cops indicted for lying in shooting of Chicago's Laquan McDonald
Three former and current Chicago police officers have been indicted on several charges, including conspiracy, in the case of a Chicago's cop's brutal killing of a black man.
Police officer Jason Van Dyke put 16 shots into the body of black teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014 while the young man was lying on the ground. Van Dyke has been indicted and is currently suspended without pay.
The three officers indicted yesterday tried to alter the dashcam video of the incident and lied about what happened to prosecutors.
Former Detective David March, and former Patrol Officer Joseph Walsh and Patrol Officer Thomas Gaffney were charged with conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice, according to a news release from Special Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes' office.
"The indictment makes clear that these defendants did more than merely obey an unofficial 'code of silence,' rather it alleges that they lied about what occurred to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth," Holmes said.
McDonald, 17, was killed in October 2014 when Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shot him 16 times. Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, with the latter charges apparently corresponding to each shot he fired at McDonald.
He is suspended without pay.
Dashcam video of the shooting -- released in November 2015 after a court battle -- contradicted nearly everything police said happened the night McDonald died. It showed McDonald walking away from police as he held a 4-inch knife, not lunging toward officers, as police had said. The shooting led to calls for reforms and fueled a national conversation about police use of deadly force.
"The shooting of Laquan McDonald forever changed the Chicago Police Department and I am committed to implementing policies and training to prevent an incident like this from happening again," police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. "We will also continue to implement meaningful reforms that build community trust, provide greater training and resources to our dedicated officers, and make Chicago safer."
In the 11-page indictment Van Dyke is referred to as Individual A and as a part of the conspiracy. He has been accused of official misconduct.
Gaffney, 43; March, 58; and Walsh, 48, are accused of writing incident reports that "contained important false information in an attempt to prevent or shape any criminal investigation."
Several reports referred to three officers being battered, which the the indictment says is false. Police statements that McDonald was threatening Van Dyke with his knife were also lies, the document says.
The indictment also says the officers failed to interview at least three witnesses whose versions of the events were different than those of police.
The conspiracy was carried out through "various means of communications," the indictment says.
Mayor Emanuel stalled for almost a year before releasing the dashcam video. You can see why he did below:
The fact is, everybody lied about what happened – police and politicians alike. The reality of what happened to McDonald is so incendiary that there was great fear at City Hall that there would be riots and unrest once the video became public.
To be sure, there were tense moments after the release of the video, but major violence was avoided. A combination of a major show of force by police and cooler heads in the black community led to rowdy protests but little property damage.
The prosecutor says the investigation is ongoing and that other officers may be caught up in the case.