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Chicago cops in coverup of Laquan McDonald murder will know their fate Dec. 19

By Jazmine Salas |
December 7, 2018
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Chicago, IL - Closing arguments in the trial related to Laquan McDonald’s murder finished on Thursday, December 6. On trial are retired Chicago Police Detective Joseph Walsh, the lead detective on the case; retired Officer David March, who was on the scene with Officer Van Dyke; and suspended Officer Thomas Gaffney, who had a prior encounter with McDonald the night of his murder. Charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and misconduct, the officers are accused of providing false statements to protect Van Dyke and cover up the murder.

At the center of this trial are discrepancies between the reports submitted by officers tied to the murder and the dash camera footage. According to Gaffney, the officers on the scene met as a group to discuss the shooting, and later met with detectives separately. Prosecutors claim that Gaffney, Walsh, March, Van Dyke, and a few other officers met in a police station on the south side to discuss the shooting and watch the dash camera footage.

After meeting for hours, Officers Gaffney, Walsh and Van Dyke all submitted suspiciously similar statements about Laquan McDonald’s actions that night. All three officers used the exact phrase – “swinging knife”- to describe what McDonald was doing moments before Van Dyke fired his weapon. Additionally, the three officers claimed McDonald committed battery against Van Dyke, despite having no evidence to support their claim.

Gaffney, who encountered McDonald before his death, submitted his comments along with the officers who were on the scene with Van Dyke. Officer March first claimed McDonald lunged at Van Dyke and falsely attributed statements supporting the claim to another officer at the scene, Officer Dora Fontaine.

The defense attorneys have denied a coverup and have attempted to blame Laquan Mcdonald for his death. James McKay, representing Officer Walsh, claims the case is about “law and order.” He said, “It’s about Laquan McDonald not following any laws that night.” McKay later referred to McDonald as a “crazed individual” who was under the influence of the drug PCP.

The defense has asked Judge Domenica Stephenson for a directed finding, claiming the evidence is so weak that the officers must be acquitted immediately. Judge Stephenson has denied their motion.

Special Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes claimed the officers acted to protect Van dyke to create “false justifications” for the murder. The prosecution’s case has focused on the inflated threat of McDonald to protect Van Dyke from the full consequences of using deadly force without justification. They have argued that Gaffney should have reported the events separately, and he didn’t because he lacked the evidence. They’ve also focused on March’s claim that the shooting was justified.

This trial comes just two months after the conviction of killer cop Jason Van Dyke of second-degree murder and aggravated battery. This historic trial is exposing the blue code of silence that exists within the Chicago Police Department.

Judge Stephenson is expected to give her verdict on December 19.