3 Chicago Police Officers Indicted on Felony Charges for Allegedly Conspiring to Cover Up Fatal Shooting of Laquan McDonald

Laquan McDonald (right) walks down the street moments before being shot by Officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago in October 2014, in a still shot from a police dashcam video. (AP)

A grand jury indicted three Chicago police officers on felony charges on Tuesday, accusing them of conspiring to cover up the facts of a fatal police shooting in October 2014 of a black teenager in order to shield their fellow officer.

Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times, according to prosecutors.

Dashcam footage, eventually released under a court order more than a year after the killing, showed Van Dyke shooting McDonald as he walked away from the officer. Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder and pleaded not guilty.

Police initially told a different story, and the Cook County grand jury indictment alleges that three officers — David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney — were at the scene of the killing and worked together to conceal crucial facts in the initial police report.

The report, which was shown to be false in light of the dashcam video, had stated that McDonald was assaulting the three officers, forcing Van Dyke to step in to defend them. The inaccurate story stated that McDonald was lunging toward Van Dyke and slashing a knife when he shot him.

In fact, the police report described Van Dyke, Walsh and Gaffney as “victims” of McDonald.

“The indictment makes clear that these defendants did more than merely obey an unofficial ‘code of silence,’ ” Special Prosecutor Patricia Holmes Brown said in a statement. “[R]ather it alleges that they lied about what occurred to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth.”

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SOURCE: NPR, Merrit Kennedy

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