Three Chicago Police Officers Charged with Conspiracy in Relation to Fatal Shooting
In 2014, Laquan McDonald, a black teenager, was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke was eventually charged with first-degree murder and police misconduct as a result of the shooting. However, three further police officers have now been charged (Detective David March, Officer Joseph Walsh, and Officer Thomas Gaffney) with a number of misconduct charges relating to their actions following the shooting.
The list of charges against the three officers includes felony conspiracy, official police misconduct, and obstruction of justice. The officers are accused of lying about McDonald’s actions leading up to the shooting and intentionally ignoring witnesses whose testimony would have conflicted with their official account of the incident.
The shooting stemmed from a 911 call claiming that a man armed with a knife was attempting to break into vehicles. Multiple offices responded, however, Van Dyke was the only one to fire his weapon. Officer accounts claimed that McDonald assaulted the officers with a knife and then attempted to get up from the ground after being shot. However, dash-cam footage of the shooting, which was originally withheld from the public, showed McDonald walking away from the officers when Van Dyke opened fire. Van Dyke then continued to shoot, even after McDonald had fallen to the ground.
The officers are accused of deliberately misleading investigators and hindering the investigation into the wrongful death. The indictment states that the officers lied about the content of the video and attempted to suppress it. The indictment also states that other unknown individuals failed to locate witnesses, failed to gather physical evidence, and gave false statements in an attempt to obstruct the investigation.
Detective March and Officer Walsh have already resigned as a result of the charges, while Officer Gaffney has been suspended without pay. All three officers could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.