US police indicted for cover up in murder of black teen
Three Chicago police officers faced felony charges Tuesday for conspiring to cover up the 2014 fatal shooting of 17-year-old black teen Laquan McDonald by a white police officer.
"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," according to special prosecutor Patricia Brown-Holmes in announcing the indictments.
Officers Thomas Gaffney, David March and Joseph Walsh, were each charged with conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice to protect Jason Van Dyke, a fellow officer, who killed McDonald.
Video recording of the fatal shooting shows a group of officers confronting the teen as he walks on a street with a knife veering away from officers when he was shot.
Van Dyke opened fire on McDonald who is spun completely around from the force of at least one shot before he falls and lies motionless in the middle of the street.
Van Dyke, who was the only officer to fire his weapon, continued to fire 16 shots at McDonald. He pleaded not guilty but was charged with murder, while investigators have focused on the behavior of other officers following the shooting. An attorney for Van Dyke has said he feared for his life at the time.
The three officers were accused not only of lying about what had happened during the shooting, but also of "coordinating their activities" to protect one another, and of preparing, reviewing or approving false police reports, court documents say.
More than a year after the shooting, Van Dyke was freed on $1.5 million bail.
As his criminal proceedings continue, Van Dyke was recently indicted on 16 new charges on top of the six counts of first-degree murder he faces in the shooting.
McDonald's death is among a string of high-profile police-involved killings of black suspects that have stirred racial tensions and set off nationwide protests over what many believe are injustices within the justice system.