Three Chicago police officers go on trial for ‘fabricating a cover story’ designed to protect their colleague who was involved in the of murder of a black teenager while on duty
Two months after their colleague, former officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted of murder, they are on trial for lying, to cover up improper conduct
Former Detective David March, Police Officers Thomas Gaffney and Joseph Walsh are accused of ‘fashioning a story’, designed to subvert the course of justice
Officer Jason Van Dyke riddled Laquan McDonald’s body full of bullets in October 2014 and lied that the teen charged at him, causing him to draw and fire
In October Van Dyke was found guilty of second degree murder and aggravated battery in the death of Laquan McDonald
Three of his colleagues have been charged, but deny trying to help him avoid the consequences
Former Det. David March [left], officers Thomas Gaffney [center] and Joseph Walsh appear at a pre-trial hearing at Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago in October
Laquan McDonald, 17, was shot dead by Jason Van Dyke despite being contained by other officers and one with a taser being 25 seconds away in Chicago in October 2014.
Shocking dash-cam footage of the incident shows the teenager twitching on the road as McDonald continues to blast shots into his body.
Former officers Joseph Walsh and David March and Officer Thomas Gaffney ‘violated the public trust’ when they ‘began to fashion a story [and] create lies that were designed to help [Jason] Van Dyke avoid the consequences of his actions,’ Special Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes said during opening statements yesterday.
Defense attorneys, however, have dismissed any suggestion that their clients created a cover story to help Van Dyke in the killing of teen victim, Laquan McDonald [left].
The defense also took a tack that proved unsuccessful for Van Dyke’s attorneys in the trial that ended with a conviction on second-degree murder and aggravated battery charges. They pinned the blame for McDonald’s death on the shoulders of the teen who was shot 16 times.
‘This is a case about law and order,’ March’s attorney, James McKay, told the judge. ‘It’s about Laquan McDonald not following any laws that night.’
McKay also called McDonald a ‘crazed individual’ with the drug PCP in his system.
William Fahy, Gaffney’s attorney, agreed. He reminded the judge that McDonald had punctured the tire of Gaffney’s squad car and smashed a knife into the windshield of the vehicle. Fahy said ‘that was an assault.’
‘The evidence will show Laquan McDonald looked (Gaffney) in the eye and raised that knife,’ he said.
Joseph Perfetti, a civilian director of the police department’s record services division, read from March’s report on the witness stand.
‘Criminal attacked officer,’ Perfetti said was written in the former detective’s report of what happened the night of Oct. 20, 2014, when Officer Van Dyke confronted McDonald. ‘Then that officer killed criminal.’
An investigator for the Cook County medical examiner’s office testified that March telephoned him to say the teenager lunged at Van Dyke before being shot.
Earl Briggs said March called on the night McDonald was shot by Van Dyke with details about what happened.
Former Chicago police officer Officer Thomas Gaffney and Joseph Walsh [right] along with former Detective David March are on trial for the McDonald police killing cover up
McKay asserted the man Briggs talked to may not have been his client.
The three men are on trial for felony charges of obstruction of justice, official misconduct and conspiracy.
March and Walsh are no longer with the department, while Gaffney has been suspended.
The bench trial, in which a judge and not a jury will decide the defendants’ guilt or innocence, is expected to last about a week.
Van Dyke has yet to be sentenced for the murder of McDonald but faces between four and twenty years behind bars.