Three current or former Chicago police officers were indicted on multiple charges Tuesday for allegedly conspiring to cover up wrongdoing by Officer Jason Van Dyke, who gunned down 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Detective David March and Patrol Officers Joseph Walsh (Van Dyke’s partner that night) and Thomas Gaffney were each charged with conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice in the case.
“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,” Patricia Brown Holmes, who was appointed special prosecutor, said in a statement, according to the Tribune.
News of Laquan’s shooting took the nation by storm, particularly after police dashcam was eventually released, showing Van Dyke shooting the teen 16 times as he walked away from police while holding a knife. The video evidence was directly at odds with what several officers detailed in their accounts of what happened. Activists and protesters alike have called for serious reforms in the Chicago Police Department, and even calls for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign.
Van Dyke was ultimately charged with first-degree murder the same day the video was released, and he is still awaiting trial.
The indictment accuses all three officers of making false reports, ignoring opposing evidence and obstructing justice “to shield” Van Dyke from criminal investigation and prosecution.
Holmes was appointed in July of last year to look into the case.
As the Tribune notes, March left the department after a report by the city inspector general accused him of falsely telling the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office that Laquan had lunged toward Van Dyke.
March reportedly told the inspector general that his investigation found that the actions of all the officers on the scene at the time of Laquan’s shooting were “absolutely proper.”
The inspector general also uncovered that Walsh made several false statements and material omissions from his interview with police and the Independent Police Review Authority, which is tasked with investigating such shootings.
All three officers created similar reports claiming that Van Dyke was injured by Laquan, who was swinging a knife “in an aggressive manner,” the indictment noted, adding that the police reports were “virtually identical” and contained information that the officers knew to be false.
All three men are expected to be arraigned July 10.
Read more at the Chicago Tribune.