A Cook County special grand jury indicted two former and one current Chicago Police Department officers yesterday (June 27) for their alleged roles in covering up Laquan McDonald’s 2014 killing by their former colleague Jason Van Dyke.
CNN reports that former detective David March, former officer Joseph Walsh and officer Thomas Gaffney each face felony charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice. All three officers were on the scene after Van Dyke, who is White, shot 17-year-old McDonald, who is Black, 16 times.
ABC 7 reports that the indictment accuses the three officers of working with Van Dyke to conceal what happened during McDonald and Van Dyke’s fatal encounter. “The indictment makes clear that these defendants did more than merely obey an unofficial ‘code of silence,’” special prosecutor Patricia Browne-Holmes said during a press conference yesterday, as quoted by ABC 7. “Rather, it alleges that they lied about what occurred to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth.”
The Associated Press says the officers could face several years in prison and tremendous monetary penalties, with “the official misconduct charge alone [carrying] a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.” The officers were not taken into custody ahead of their July 10 arraignment hearing.
McDonald’s videotaped killing and the subsequent cover-up allegations provoked major protests and outrage that resulted in former police superintendent Garry McCarthy’s resignation and Cook County state’s attorney Anita Alvarez’s electoral defeat. Van Dyke currently faces six murder, one misconduct and 16 aggravated battery charges—one for each round he shot into the teenager’s body.