Three Chicago police officers have been charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and official misconduct in regard to the investigation of Laquan McDonald’s fatal shooting.
According to Buzzfeed, the officers were indicted by a Chicago grand jury on Tuesday, and have been accused providing false information about the events leading up to McDonald’s death. The indictment claims patrol officers Joseph Walsh, Thomas Gaffney, and Detective David March filed false police reports after leaving the scene the shooting. In November of 2015—about a year after the tragedy took place—a special grand jury began hearing evidence about whether or not officers tried to conceal crucial facts about the case. Many believe the officers lied on the incident reports and failed to interview key witnesses in an attempt to protect officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot 17-year-old McDonald 16 times.
The initial report stated McDonald was assaulting the three officers before Van Dyke intervened. According to the officers, McDonald then lunged at Van Dyke with a knife, which led the officer to open fire. Dashcam footage contradicted the report, and showed the teenager walking away from Van Dyke before getting gunned down.
Van Dyke has since been charged with six counts of first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
“The indictment makes clear that these defendants did more than merely obey an unofficial ‘code of silence,’ rather it alleges that they lied about what occurred to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth,” Patricia Brown Holmes, the special prosecutor, said in a statement.
According to Buzzfeed, the felony charges the officers face each carry fines of $25,000 and up to three to five years in prison.