Nearly a month after seven Chicago Police Department officers were fired for their role in allegedly covering up the 2014 death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald at the hands of former officer Jason Van Dyke, the implicated officers are set to face a special grand jury.
Patricia Brown Holmes, the special prosecutor who was eventually appointed to oversee the case against Dyke—who was charged with first-degree murder for shooting the Black teenager 16 times—told the court that she has enough evidence to present a solid case against the officers. She has not confirmed how many of the fired officers will be included in the proceedings. The special grand jury will be tasked with determining if they should be indicted on criminal charges. According to the Chicago Tribune, Judge LeRoy Martin Jr. will convene the 16-person special grand jury within the next two weeks.
“In a decision that’s this weighty and important, I think the public would want to have some oversight,” Holmes told reporters on Monday (September 12). “It’s fair and it’s impartial and it lends credibility to the process.”
That process has been much delayed. The shooting happened in October 2014, but it took more than a year—and a court order—to force Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the police department to release dashcam video of the shooting and charge Van Dyke. Officers had long maintained that McDonald was threatening them with a knife; the video showed he was actually walking away while carrying the three-inch blade at the time that he was shot. Citizens subsequently held massive protests as they demanded accountability from the mayor’s office to the police station to the state’s attorney’s office.