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Chicago Police Board Has Fired 4 Officers For Covering Up Murder Of Laquan McDonald

The board ordered Sgt. Stephen Franko, Officer Janet Mondragon, Officer Daphne Sebastian and Officer Ricardo Viramontes to be "discharged from the Chicago Police Department."
Chicago Police Officer Thomas Gaffney, center, former Detective David March, left, and ex-Officer Joseph Walsh, right, at a pretrial hearing with Judge Domenica A. Stephenson on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018 at Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, Ill. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images) Chicago Police Officer Thomas Gaffney, center, former Detective David March, left, and ex-Officer Joseph Walsh, right, at a pretrial hearing with Judge Domenica A. Stephenson on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018 at Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, Ill. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
By Paula Rogo · July 21, 2019

Four Chicago police officers have been fired for their attempts to cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald in 2014.

The Chicago Police Board gave its final order on Thursday, giving the mandate that Sgt. Stephen Franko, Officer Janet Mondragon, Officer Daphne Sebastian, and Officer Ricardo Viramontes be “discharged from the Chicago Police Department.”

The group violated their “duty by describing the alleged threat posed by Mr. McDonald in an exaggerated way while omitting relevant facts that support the opposite conclusion. The overall impression based on this selective telling is both misleading and false,” the independent civilian board concluded.

In October 2014, 17-year-old McDonald was shot 16 times by ex-cop Jason Van Dyke after responding to reports that McDonald was breaking into cars on the Southwest Side of the city and had a knife. Though Van Dyke said he feared for his life, dashcam footage showed that the McDonald was actually walking away from officers when shots rang out.

The newly fired officers were proven to have exaggerated McDonald’s role in the incident, initially claiming he lunged toward officers with a knife forcing Van Dyke to open fire.

“Indeed, taken on their face, the officers’ accounts depict a scene in which Mr. McDonald was the aggressor and Officer Van Dyke the victim—a depiction squarely contradicted by reality. Put simply, the officers wanted to help their fellow officer (Jason Van Dyke) and so described the incident in a way to put him in the best possible light,” the board wrote.

Van Dyke was sentenced to six years and nine months for second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery last year, though many have criticized his light sentence.

His conviction was the first time in 50 years that a Chicago police officer was convicted of murder for an on-duty killing.