Days after Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke shot Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014, top brass watched a video of the shooting at a meeting in which “everyone agreed” the shooting was justified, a lieutenant who attended the meeting said in sworn testimony reported by the Chicago Tribune. Newly obtained documents of the city’s Office of Inspector General investigation show that the department, from beat cops to command-level officials, quickly came to Van Dyke’s defense, even after viewing dashboard camera video at the scene that contradicted officers’ accounts. Command-level officers raised few concerns and signed off on their reports, the inspector general’s investigation found. “There was never no question whether the shooting was justified,” Lt. Osvaldo Valdez told investigators about the meeting of the top brass. “Everyone agreed that Officer Van Dyke used the force necessary to eliminate the threat, and that’s pretty much it.”
Among those who huddled at police headquarters for the meeting was then-Deputy Chief Eddie Johnson, who was promoted to superintendent after Garry McCarthy was fired in the fallout of the video’s release. The newly revealed documents also contain Van Dyke’s first-person account of why he shot McDonald. “I think he’s going to try and take my life away from me,” Van Dyke told an investigator two days later. When challenged in recent months about discrepancies between the video and their accounts, top officials as well as rank-and-file cops stood their ground, saying they had accurately described what happened the night McDonald was shot. The documents revealed that the inspector general recommended firing Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy and Deputy Chief David McNaughton in addition to nine lower-ranking officers.