Appointed special prosecutor in 2016 to investigate the way police handled the McDonald shooting, Holmes has held a wide range of public positions: state and federal prosecutor, chief assistant corporation counsel for the city and Cook County judge. She also was appointed the inaugural chair of the state Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission, which investigates claims of police abuse. A cancer survivor who grew up on the Far South Side, Holmes has been in private practice since 2005 and is a founding partner of the Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila law firm.
Ronald Safer: In his years as a federal prosecutor, Safer rose through the ranks as he spearheaded many major cases, including the landmark trials against the Gangster Disciples gang leaders, including Larry Hoover. After going into private practice, he helped lead a review of the city’s police disciplinary practices in 2014. As a partner at Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila, he focuses on white-collar crime and civil litigation and does pro bono work in wrongful-conviction cases.
Brian Watson: In addition to a law degree, Watson holds
A detective for more than two decades, March, 60, was the lead investigator in at least 30 police-involved shootings before taking on that role in McDonald’s death. He left the department after the city inspector general’s office recommended his firing. March told the inspector general his investigation found the actions of all the officers were "absolutely proper" and that Van Dyke was justified in killing McDonald.
Joseph Walsh: Walsh, 49, was Van Dyke’s partner for only the second time the night of McDonald’s shooting. He is the only one of the three defendants who actually witnessed the teen being shot. He testified at Van Dyke’s trial this fall in memorable fashion, at one point stepping down from the witness stand to re-enact the way he said McDonald threatened police with the knife. Walsh also left the department after the inspector general recommended his dismissal.
Thomas Gaffney: Gaffney, 45, was one of the first police officers to encounter McDonald that night. He followed the teen for a few blocks in a squad car while his partner trailed him on foot. McDonald used his knife to pop the tire and stab the windshield of Gaffney’s squad car. Gaffney has been suspended without pay since his indictment last year.