Last month, jurors convicted former Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, but the fallout from this case isn’t over yet. Three other officers are on trial for allegedly trying to cover up the incident. Thomas Gaffney, former detective David March, and Joseph Walsh face charges of conspiracy, official misconduct, and obstruction of justice.
This will be a bench trial, as they have opted to have the case heard by just the judge instead of a jury. Prosecutors claim that the defendants each lied in their reports by saying that McDonald attacked Van Dyke on October 20, 2014.
Video released in 2015 showed that McDonald was moving away from Van Dyke at the time of the shooting. The officer’s defense attorneys said that their client had a reasonable fear of the victim, who was on PCP, had a knife, and was on “a wild rampage.” Prosecutors said that there were other ways to deescalate the situation. Opening fire–let alone 16 times–was unnecessary, they said.
“I felt like he was trying to remember stuff that he said that maybe wasn’t true, and he wanted to make sure didn’t trip himself up,” said Juror 245, a black woman. “I didn’t really feel his testimony was credible.”
By finding Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder, instead of first-degree, jurors indicated that they believed the defendant thought he was in danger, but that his fear was unreasonable.
[Image via Chicago Police Department screengrab]