CHICAGO – Three Chicago police officers are due to be tried Tuesday for complicity to conceal the actions of one of their colleagues during the police killing of the 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
The trial of former detective David March, former agent Joseph Walsh and agent Thomas Gaffney comes two months after former agent Jason Van Dyke was convicted of murder in the second degree and serious bodily injury during the shooting death of the black teenager.
The three officers face state charges for conspiracy, obstruction of justice and misconduct. Prosecutors said they have tried to prevent independent investigators from learning the truth about McDonald's death.
Officers opted for a bench trial. The case against them will be heard and judged by Cook County Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson and not by a jury.
The officers were among several others who reportedly reported that McDonald acted aggressively towards them and posed an immediate threat.
A video of the police on the dashcam contradicts these claims. This shows that McDonald's turns away from the officers when Van Dyke started firing.
The video shows that Van Dyke opened fire six seconds after his exit from the police vehicle. McDonald was on the ground in less than 1.6 seconds. Van Dyke continued to shoot McDonald for another 12.5 seconds.
He fired 16 shots at the teenager.
The video, which played a crucial role in the Van Dyke trial, will also be at the center of the camouflage trial.
Walsh, who was Van Dyke's associate on the night of the shooting, is accused of lying to investigators about what led to the shooting.
Walsh testified under limited immunity at Van Dyke's trial. Walsh's testimony at this trial can not be held against him at his own trial, as long as he was truthful.
Walsh testified that the video does not tell the whole story.
"My position, my angle was totally different," said Walsh.
Walsh stated that he "had backtracked" and that McDonald's had approached at a distance of 12 to 15 feet and had "steered the knife towards the agents in an aggressive manner," according to documents from the police.
Walsh said he and Van Dyke had repeatedly asked McDonald's to drop the knife.
Gaffney, 45, allegedly told investigators that Van Dyke and other officers had been injured in the confrontation. No officer was injured.
More: A Chicago policeman tried for the murder of Laquan McDonald testifies: "He was blindfolded"
March, 60, the chief detective would have signed the statements of police officers present on the scene and indicated that there was no discrepancy between what they had said and the video of the police.
Gaffney has been suspended without pay since the announcement of the indictment against the three officers in June 2017. March and Walsh have resigned from the department.
Officers' lawyers earlier this month argued in a motion to dismiss charges that special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes had filed for political reasons. Judge Stephenson refused their offer.
Constable Dora Fontaine, whose initial statement to the investigators appears to have been contradicted by the police video, is an expected witness.
After the 2014 shooting, she told the investigators that she had heard police officers repeatedly ordering McDonald to drop the knife and that he "raised his right arm in the direction of Agent Van Dyke, as if 39, he attacked Van Dyke ", according to police documents published by the city.
However, during her trial, Van Dyke asserted at her trial that Ms. Fontaine, who had obtained the immunity of prosecutors, had seen McDonald's making only "swinging" movements with the knife before the shooting.
The shooting of October 2014 was part of a series of deadly clashes between law enforcement and black men and women who sparked a national debate over the maintenance of the police. 39; order. Police and police officials handled the incident, further fragmenting police confidence in the African American community in Chicago.
Local leaders initially resisted the publication of this video. Activists have accused Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police officials of leaving an unofficial "code of silence" among police officers to persist.
A court finally ordered the city to publish the images, 400 days after the shooting. On the day of his release, Van Dyke was charged with first degree murder.
County Attorney Anita Alvarez, accused by activists of taking too long to charge the police, was removed from office. And local and federal authorities have opened investigations on the police department.
Emanuel has seen his status within the important African-American community of the city. He sacked his police commissioner and announced in September, a few days before the start of jury selection in the Van Dyke trial, that he would not run for a third term.
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