23 Cops Called Before Laquan McDonald Federal Grand Jury

Angela Bronner Helm
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke leaves the Criminal Courts Building after pleading not guilty to first-degree-murder charges related to the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald on Dec. 29, 2015, in Chicago.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Recently released records show that nearly two dozen officers were called to testify in the Laquan McDonald case, including the lead detective and officers on the scene whose initial reports conflicted with dash-cam video later released, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The records—released after a Freedom of Information Act request—show that the officers began testifying to a grand jury in June and continued as late as two days before Christmas. So far, 23 Chicago Police Department employees have been subpoenaed.


Last November, Cook County charged Officer Jason Van Dyke with the murder of 17-year-old Laquan for shooting the teen 16 times as he appeared to be walking away. The state’s attorney’s office is working with federal prosecutors, who have been looking to determine whether police violated Laquan’s civil rights.

Van Dyke’s partner, Joseph Walsh, has been called before the grand jury at least twice, reports the Tribune. Walsh initially told investigators that Laquan was advancing on him while swinging a knife and that he repeatedly told the teen to “drop [it].” Video later released shows that this was not the case.

Officers Ricardo Viramontes and Dora Fontaine, who were listed in detectives’ reports as being witnesses to the shooting, were also called, and both gave initial statements at odds with the video, reports the Tribune.

Lead Detective David March, who was not called to testify until after the dash-cam video was released to the public in November, initially ruled the shooting a justifiable homicide, saying that Laquan had committed an aggravated assault against the three officers and forced Van Dyke to shoot “in defense of his life.”


March also found no discrepancies between the video and the officers’ statements, though city and law-enforcement officials now acknowledge inconsistencies.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that not all of the 23 subpoenaed officers remain on active duty, but it would take another Freedom of Information request to determine who remains on the street.


Sources have told the Tribune that the federal investigation has branched into possible obstruction-of justice charges against the officers at the scene.

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired in December over the case.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

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