3 officers indicted in shooting of Laquan McDonald

3 officers indicted in shooting of Laquan McDonald

3 officers indicted in shooting of Laquan McDonald

Three police officers were charged on Tuesday with conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation that followed the death of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager fatally shot by a white Chicago police officer three years ago.

The indictment alleges that the three "current or former" officers - identified as Detective David March and Patrol Officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney - gave false reports and information, failed to correct false information, and failed to locate and interview three witnesses to the shooting, whose accounts contradicted their false reports.

Walsh was the partner of officer Jason Van Dyke, who fired 16 shots into McDonald on October 20, 2014, allegedly as the victim walked away.

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.

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While the police union had said McDonald was holding a knife and approaching officers when he was killed, graphic video showed that the 17-year-old was veering away from officers when he was shot.

A Cook County special grand jury approved the three-count indictment Monday and the charges were filed Tuesday.

"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, who was appointed special prosecutor, said in a statement.

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According to the indictment, the three officers, along with other unidentified people, coordinated their efforts to obstruct justice, ignored information and evidence and engaged in other illegal acts following the shooting. The department has sought to fire Van Dyke and four other officers involved, but the officers have contested the discipline. Gaffney remains on the force but, per department policy, he has been suspended because of the felony indictment, according to the department.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says his department is fully cooperating with prosecutors as the investigation in the fatal shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald continues.

Chicago police didn't immediately respond to the charges. Prosecutors must prove that March, Walsh, Gaffney, and any other people that could be later added to the indictment knowingly and intentionally falsified the record to stymie investigations into Van Dyke's actions.

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