CHICAGO – Three Chicago police officers who were charged with trying to cover up the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald to protect a fellow officer were acquitted Thursday.
Former Detective David March, former Officer Joseph Walsh, and Officer Thomas Gaffney did not conspire to cover up the black teenager’s death, Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson found, FOX News reported.
The officers had been charged with conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice related to McDonald’s death. Yet the judge said there was no evidence that demonstrated they tried to conceal evidence related to McDonald’s death. Moreover, she even said, “The evidence shows just the opposite.”
Stephenson said that the officers preserved the police dashcam video at the heart of the evidence that convicted Officer Jason Van Dyke.
Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in October after he shot McDonald in 2014.
Prosecutors argued that March, Gaffney and Walsh, who was Van Dyke’s partner, submitted false reports. Their argument insinuated the officers tried to prevent a criminal investigation into the shooting.
They also alleged that the officers falsely claimed that McDonald ignored verbal commands from Van Dyke, that Van Dyke shot McDonald after McDonald aggressively swung a knife at the officers and that he kept shooting the teen because McDonald was trying to get up still armed with the knife.
Evidence actually showed that McDonald possessed a small knife that he used to puncture a tire on Gaffney’s police vehicle. However, the dashcam shows that he didn’t swing it at the officers before Van Dyke opened fire.
“The case is clear, the case is straightforward, and it is concise,” Special Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes told the judge during her opening statements. “It boils down to what the defendants wrote on paper versus what is shown on video.”
Ultimately, the judge saw it differently.