Almost two months ago, Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Now, on Tuesday, the three officers who have been accused of conspiring to cover up Van Dyke’s actions are scheduled to go to trial for their alleged crimes.
According to USA Today, the trial of Detective David March and Officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney are facing charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and misconduct as prosecutors argue they tried to stop independent investigators from learning what really happened when Van Dyke shot the teen 16 times.
All three officers chose to have a bench trial, and will not face a jury, with the case ultimately being decided by Cook County Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson.
The three officers were among those who claimed that McDonald – who was attempting to flee at the time of the shooting – acted aggressively toward offices and posed an imminent threat.
Dashcam footage showed that that was a lie, as McDonald turned away from officers when Van Dyke decided to unload several bullets at the teen within mere seconds of exiting his police vehicle, without really assessing the situation. As USA Today notes, McDonald was on the ground less than 2 seconds after Van Dyke started firing, but Van Dyke still continued to fire his weapon for another 12 seconds.
Walsh was Van Dyke’s partner when the shooting occurred, and he is accused of lying to investigators about what happened to prompt Van Dyke to shoot.
Walsh used a popular police theme during testimony during Van Dyke’s trial, claiming that the video didn’t tell show the entire story.
“My position, my angle was totally different,” he claimed, saying that he “backed up” as McDonald got some 12 to 15 feet within officers and “swung the knife toward officers in an aggressive manner.”
Walsh claimed that Van Dyke, who again fired within six seconds of leaving the vehicle, repeatedly ordered McDonald to drop the knife.
This testimony will not be held against Walsh in his own trial, as long as it was truthful, according to the news site.
Meanwhile, Gaffney apparently told investigators that Van Dyke and other officers were injured during the encounter with McDonald, which was not true. No officers were hurt.
And then March, the lead detective in this case, allegedly signed statements given by officers who were on the scene that claimed that there was no inconsistencies between the officers’ statements and the dashcam video.
Gaffney is currently suspended without pay since the indictment of the officers back in June 2017. March and Walsh, however, have both resigned from the department.