3 policemen are charged in fatal shooting
Cover-up is alleged after Chicago officer killed teen in 2014.
CHICAGO — Three current or former Chicago police officers were indicted Tuesday on charges of conspiring to cover up alleged wrongdoing by Officer Jason Van Dyke in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Det. David March and patrol officers Joseph Walsh, Van Dyke’s partner that night in 2014, and Thomas Gaffney were each charged with conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice.
“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,” Patricia Brown Holmes, the special prosecutor, said in a statement.
Police dashboard video of Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times as the black teenager walked away from police while holding a knife has caused a firestorm of controversy and led to calls for major reforms of the Police Department. The accounts of several officers differed drastically from the police video.
Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder on the same day in November 2015 that the video was released on the order of a Cook County judge. He is still awaiting trial.
Tuesday’s indictment charged that March, the lead detective, and Walsh and Gaffney made false police reports, ignored contrary evidence and obstructed justice “to shield” Van Dyke from criminal investigation and prosecution.
All three officers created police reports in the hours following McDonald’s killing that contained false information in an attempt to prevent a criminal investigation, the indictment charged.
According to the indictment, Gaffney, Walsh and Van Dyke submitted “virtually identical” police reports containing information they knew to be false.