CHICAGO (CN) — Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson said Thursday he has recommended seven officers be fired for lying in their official reports about the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014.
Johnson based his decision on the recommendations of Inspector General Joe Ferguson, who advocated firing 10 officers for allegedly conspiring to cover up the killing of McDonald.
Jason Van Dyke was indicted on charges of murdering Laquan McDonald last year. He has pleaded not guilty.
The names of the seven officers recommended to lose their jobs have not been released, but Van Dyke’s partner, Joseph Walsh, is reported to be among them.
Walsh recounted in his incident report that McDonald advanced on the officers at the scene, including Van Dyke, and swung a knife in an aggressive manner.
But the grainy dashcam video ordered to be released by Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama last year shows 17-year-old Laquan McDonald walking down the middle of the street, away from the dashcam-equipped police cruiser, and parallel to another police SUV.
McDonald was not walking toward the white officer standing several yards away beside the SUV when Van Dyke fired his weapon.
Though the footage shows McDonald drop to the ground after the first bullet, Van Dyke fired 15 more rounds. The video then shows another officer run up to the body and kick something – possibly a knife – out of McDonald’s hand.
There is no audio attached to the video.
The city inspector general had recommended 10 officers for termination, but two have already retired, including Deputy Chief David McNaughton, who retired just three days ago. McNaughton was in charge of the shooting scene and had found Van Dyke’s use of force proper.
Johnson decided not to seek the termination of the 10th officer, saying he disagreed with the inspector general’s recommendation in that individual’s case.
The inspector general now intends to investigate which senior Chicago police supervisors knew about the discrepancies between the dashcam video and police officer’s accounts of the scene.
A Police Accountability Task Force appointed by the mayor found the city’s police department has deeply rooted problems with racism and lack of accountability for police officers’ actions.
Although Chicago’s population is evenly split between blacks, whites and Hispanics, 74 percent of police shootings between 2008 and 2015 involved blacks, and black drivers were four times as likely to be searched by police after being stopped, even though contraband was found twice as often on white drivers, the task force found.
Given the outrage and mass protests the McDonald shooting sparked in Chicago, Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon has been appointed as a special prosecutor to handle the murder case against Van Dyke.
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