The cops who lied in police reports after they watched one of their fellow officers empty his gun into the body of a 17-year-old black boy will be back at the Chicago Police Department, receiving their full paychecks.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the Chicago Police Board has also delayed disciplinary hearings for four officers charged with filing false police reports in the death of Laquan McDonald. Officers Daphne Sebastian, Janet Mondragon and Ricardo Viramontes and Sgt. Stephen Franko had all been suspended without pay since last summer—400 days after the city of Chicago released video of the brutal shooting that contradicted the reports the officers filed.
On the night on Oct. 14, 2014, the CPD responded to a report of a man carrying a knife walking in the street. When they confronted Laquan, he sliced the tires of a patrol car with a 3-inch knife. In response, Jason Van Dyke—who was on the scene for less than 30 seconds—shot Laquan from 10 feet away as Laquan was walking away. The bullet spun the teen’s body around and knocked him to the ground.
Then Van Dyke fired into Laquan’s body 15 more times.
After the shooting, officers reported that Laquan moved in an “aggressive, exaggerated manner” toward them. They said that Van Dyke feared for his life. The city quickly suppressed the evidence and paid off the McDonald family with taxpayer money. Over a year later, after a reporter sued to have video of the shooting released, the video was made public, proving that all of the police statements were filled with lies.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson recommended that the officers be fired, but the police board decided that the officers’ hearing should be delayed until after Van Dyke’s trial. Although the four law-enforcement professionals (pronounced “lye-errs”) will be reinstated, the board decided to assign them to desk duty until Van Dyke faces criminal prosecution.
Before you applaud the fact that Johnson wants them fired, remember that the Police Department read the four false reports and let the officers who filed them keep working. The CPD saw the shooting video and kept the cops employed for another year. It was only after a judge ruled that the public had the right to see the police video that the CPD decided to discipline the officers who gave false statements.
The department knew that Van Dyke had 20 complaints from civilians, including 10 for excessive use of force and two involving firearms, but had never disciplined him. Johnson knew there was a criminal conspiracy to cover up an alleged murder, but allowed the perpetrators—including the man who shot a teenager who posed no threat to him—to continue patrolling the streets of Chicago.
This story highlights the main problem of state violence. Police brutality has never been a problem of rogue cops who lack de-escalation skills or have jittery trigger fingers. It is that every officer knows that he or she can get away with it. The problem isn’t singular bad cops. It is the prosecutors who are on the side of law-enforcement officers. It is the police unions who always offer unwavering cover fire—even in the most egregious situations. It is mayors like Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel who pay off families and suppress evidence. It is the blue code of silence. It is the fraternity of officers who remain silent when they know the truth. They are all culpable. They are all accessories
But the taxpayers of Chicago will have to fork over their hard-earned money to four officers who swore to protect and serve them. Chicago will now protect and serve the criminals who saw one of their own kill a boy in the middle of the street and then lied about it. Doesn’t that sound like the dreaded “no-snitching” concept for which they belittle people who live in black neighborhoods for doing? Doesn’t that sound like something a Crip or Blood would do?
To be fair, Chicago Police Board Hearing Officer Tom Johnson raised a valid point. He explained that the reason the cops were reinstated to duty while their hearings were delayed was that firing them or forcing them to testify could “prejudice and potentially jeopardize the criminal prosecutions and the officers’ constitutional rights.” The board also said that the CPD could be violating the four officers’ constitutional rights by continuing their suspension without pay.
When asked if he felt his constitutional rights had been violated because the man who shot him is still walking around as a free man 973 days later, Laquan McDonald’s bullet-riddled, 17-year-old corpse did not respond.
Read more at the Chicago Tribune.