Tuesday, 17 October, 2017

Chicago police officers indicted in Laquan McDonald case

Three officers charged with conspiracy in Laquan McDonald shooting 3 current or ex-Chicago PD officers indicted in relation to Laquan McDonald shooting
Alfredo Watts | 28 June, 2017, 01:45

The indictment charged that all three created police reports in the hours following McDonald's 2014 killing that contained false information in an attempt to prevent a criminal investigation.

The three others indicted Tuesday, Detective David March, Officer Joseph Walsh and Officer Thomas, face charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct, according to an indictment from special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes.

Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times, according to prosecutors. He was charged with murder in late 2015 after a Cook County judge a police dash cam recording of the shooting to be released.

A scathing Justice Department report released in the final days of the Obama administration concluded that the Chicago Police Department "engages in a pattern or practice of the use of excessive force".

Those reports said that Van Dyke - identified in the indictment as Individual A - was injured by McDonald, who was swinging a knife "in an aggressive manner", according to the indictment. The inaccurate story stated that McDonald was lunging toward Van Dyke and slashing a knife when he shot him.

The Fraternal Order of Police's Chicago President Kevin Graham declined comment, saying the union hasn't reviewed the indictment and doesn't comment on ongoing investigations.

"Further, the indictment makes clear that these defendants did more than merely obey an unofficial 'code of silence", Holds said in the statement. "Rather it alleges that they lied about occurred to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth".

Chicago PD did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the officers charged Tuesday are still active members of the force.

According to the indictment, Gaffney, Walsh and Van Dyke submitted "virtually identical" police reports containing information they knew to be false. In August past year Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson recommended that seven officers accused of lying about the shooting be dismissed, based on a report from the city's inspector general. They are scheduled to appear at an arraignment on July 10.

The three charges each carry penalties of three to five years in prison and possible fines up to $25,000.

"Investigating and charging police officers with crimes relating to their duties is a sobering responsibility", Holmes said at a news conference detailing the charges.