3 Chicago police officers indicted in McDonald case

AP PHOTO
In this Oct. 20, 2014 file image taken from dash-cam video provided by the Chicago Police Department, Laquan McDonald, right, walks down the street moments before being fatally shot by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. Three Chicago police officers have been indicted on felony charges alleging they conspired to cover up the fatal shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald by a white officer. The three officers, Thomas Gaffney, David March and Joseph Walsh, were each charged Tuesday, with conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice.

AP PHOTO In this Oct. 20, 2014 file image taken from dash-cam video provided by the Chicago Police Department, Laquan McDonald, right, walks down the street moments before being fatally shot by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. Three Chicago police officers have been indicted on felony charges alleging they conspired to cover up the fatal shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald by a white officer. The three officers, Thomas Gaffney, David March and Joseph Walsh, were each charged Tuesday, with conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice.

CHICAGO — Three Chicago police officers were indicted Tuesday on felony charges that they conspired to cover up the actions of a white police officer who shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, and that the officers lied when they said the black teenager “aggressively” swung a knife at them and tried to get up from the ground still armed after he was shot.

The indictment alleges that one current and two former officers lied about the events of Oct. 20, 2014, when Officer Jason Van Dyke shot the teenager 16 times.

The officers’ narratives contradict what can be seen on police dashcam video, in which the teenager spins after he was shot and falls to the ground — seemingly incapacitated — as the officer continues to fire shot after shot into his body. The indictment further alleges that officers lied when they said McDonald ignored Van Dyke’s verbal commands and that one of the officers signed off on a report that claimed the other two officers were, in fact, victims of an attack by McDonald.

“The co-conspirators created police reports in the critical early hours and days following the killing of Laquan McDonald that contained important false information,” says the indictment in which the three are charged with felony counts of obstruction of justice, official misconduct and conspiracy.

The indictments mark the latest chapter in what has been one of the most troubling stories in the history of a police force dogged by allegations of racism, brutality and the protection of officers who brutalize African-Americans. The video sparked massive protests, cost the police superintendent his job and left the city scrambling to implement reforms to regain shattered public trust.

In January, the Department of Justice issued a scathing report that found that the department had violated the constitutional rights of residents for years, including by too often using excessive force and killing suspects who posed no threat.

Patricia Brown Holmes — appointed special prosecutor last July to investigate officers at the scene and involved in the investigation of the shooting — said in a news release that the three — David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney — “coordinated their activities to protect each other and other members of the Chicago Police Department,” including by filing false police reports, ignoring contrary evidence and not even attempting to interview keys witnesses.