The judge’s verdict is expected at 2:00 pm ET in the trial of three cops accused of covering up the real nature of former officer Jason Van Dyke‘s fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. That death resulted in Van Dyke’s conviction for second-degree murder back in October. Now, defendants Thomas Gaffney, former detective David March, and Van Dyke’s partner, former officer Joseph Walsh will see if they will be convicted of charges of conspiracy, official misconduct, and obstruction of justice.
Authorities treated the 2014 shooting as justified at first, but video released the following year showed that McDonald was turning away at the time of the incident. The victim was shot 16 times. Overkill, the prosecution argued.
Gaffney, March, and Walsh were indicted in June 2017, when prosecutors said the officers falsified police reports and conspired not to interview witnesses who would contradict the official story of the shooting. At trial, Gaffney’s attorney William Fahy described McDonald as an active danger that night. Walsh had testified that he thought McDonald was moving toward a Dunkin’ Donuts at the time of the shooting, but video showed the opposite.
The defense at Van Dyke’s murder trial tried to describe McDonald as being on a “wild rampage,” saying he was acting belligerent that night, was on PCP, and had a knife. The prosecution acknowledged the details about McDonald’s behavior, his drug use, and the fact that he had a weapon, but added there were other ways to handle the situation at the moment of the shooting. By finding Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder, jurors determined that while he may have thought he was in danger, this fear was unreasonable. The defendant was also convicted of 16 counts of aggravated battery.
[Image via Chicago Police Department screengrab]