Four Chicago cops accused of covering up a white officer’s fatal shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald in 2014 have been fired by the city’s police force.
McDonald’s killing, which was captured on police video camera, sparked months of protests and became emblematic of longstanding police abuse in the Windy City.
In October, a jury convicted a white police officer, Jason Van Dyke, of second-degree murder for firing 16 bullets into McDonald, most of which struck him after he fell to the ground. He’s serving a term of more than six years.
The nine-member Chicago Police Board on Thursday said it ordered Sgt. Stephen Frank and Officers Janet Mondragon, Daphne Sebastian and Ricardo Viramontes to be discharged.
The panel concluded the cops violated their “duty by describing the alleged threat posed by Mr. McDonald in an exaggerated way, while omitting relevant facts that support the opposite conclusion. The overall impression based on this selective telling is both misleading and false,” according to CNN.
“Indeed, taken on their face, the officers’ accounts depict a scene in which Mr. McDonald was the aggressor and Officer Van Dyke the victim — a depiction squarely contradicted by reality. Put simply, the officers wanted to help their fellow officer (Jason Van Dyke) and so described the incident in a way to put him in the best possible light,” wrote the board, an independent civilian body that decides police disciplinary cases.
The Fraternal Order of Police assailed the board for its decision, insisting that the officers did nothing wrong.
“It is obvious that this police board has out-served its usefulness,” said the organization’s vice president, Patrick Murray.
In 2016, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson accused the officers of either giving or approving knowingly false statements.
None of them were charged criminally, but they were stripped of police powers and assigned to desk duty as their case proceeded. The firings can be appealed through a lawsuit.
In January, a Cook County judge acquitted three other cops of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct charges in the case.
Former Officer Joseph Walsh, Officer Thomas Gaffney and former Detective David March had been accused of lying to shield Van Dyke from prosecution.
A judge rejected the contention that footage of McDonald’s death proved police officers staged a cover-up.