In a historic move sure to be watched nationwide, three current or former Chicago police officers are facing criminal charges in an alleged cover-up to protect officer Jason Van Dyke, who fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes yesterday announced a three-count indictment charging patrol officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney and detective David March with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct. Holmes accused the trio of filing false accounts of the October 2014 shooting to keep Van Dyke from being accused of any wrongdoing. She said the three failed to interview witnesses who might have contradicted their faulty version of events.
March, 58, the lead detective in the case, cleared Van Dyke of wrongdoing, despite dashcam video that appears to show McDonald walking away from Van Dyke when he opened fire and shot the teen 16 times. Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in November 2015 on the day before that video was publicly released.
“This indictment alleges that these defendants lied about what occurred during a police-involved shooting in order to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth,” Holmes said. “The indictment makes clear that it is unacceptable to obey an unofficial code of silence.” Asked about the prospect of more officers facing charges, Holmes said repeatedly: “The investigation is ongoing.” Gaffney, who had been on desk duty and was the only one of the three officers charged who had not retired or resigned, was suspended after the charges were announced.