Saturday 21 October 2017

Three Chicago police officers indicted in Laquan McDonald case

Laquan McDonald, right, moments before being fatally shot by police officer Jason Van Dyke (Chicago Police Department via AP)
Laquan McDonald, right, moments before being fatally shot by police officer Jason Van Dyke (Chicago Police Department via AP)

Three Chicago police officers have been indicted on felony charges that they conspired to cover up the actions of a white police officer who shot and killed black teenager Laquan McDonald.

A Cook County grand jury alleges that the three current and former officers lied about the events of October 20 2014, when officer Jason Van Dyke shot the 17-year-old 16 times.

David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney are charged with felony counts of obstruction of justice, official misconduct and conspiracy.

"The co-conspirators created police reports in the critical early hours and days following the killing of Laquan McDonald that contained important false information in an attempt to prevent or shape any criminal investigation," the indictment said.

Patricia Brown Holmes, the special prosecutor in the case, said in a separate news release that the three "co-ordinated their activities to protect each other and other members of the Chicago Police Department by furnishing false information, making false police reports, failing to report or correct false information, ignoring contrary information or evidence, obstructing justice, failing to perform a mandatory duty, and performing acts each knew to be forbidden to perform..."

The indictment also alleges that the conspiracy included an effort not to try to locate and interview three witnesses whose accounts of what happened were not consistent with the police version of events.

It is not clear which of the three officers are still with the department and which are no longer police officers.

But in December, it was reported that Walsh and March were put on desk duty more than a year after Laquan was shot and well after the video was released that showed the accounts officers gave did not reflect what was captured on the now-famous dashboard camera.

Van Dyke was charged more than a year later with first-degree murder on the same day that the city - under orders from a judge - made public the dashboard camera video.

He has pleaded not guilty.

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