Judge set to issue verdict in Chicago police cover-up case

CHICAGO (AP) – A judge was set to announce a verdict yesterday for three Chicago police officers accused of lying in their reports to protect the white officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald.

Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson scheduled an afternoon hearing for David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney. They are charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct for allegedly lying about the 2014 shooting, which sparked large protests and accusations of a cover-up after dashcam video of the confrontation emerged 13 months after it happened.

The video, which city officials refused to release until ordered by a judge, showed Officer Jason Van Dyke firing round after round into the 17-year-old, and it conflicted with the officers’ accounts, which stated that McDonald aggressively swung a knife at police and kept trying to get up even after he was shot.

Van Dyke was convicted by a jury in October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery – one for each bullet he shot McDonald with. He’s due to be sentenced today by Judge Vincent Gaughan.

Van Dyke is believed to be the first Chicago officer convicted in a fatal on-duty shooting of an African-American. The other three are thought to the first to be charged with trying to cover up an on-duty shooting. Gaffney is the only one who remains with the police department.

File photo shows (from left) former detective David March, Chicago police officer Thomas Gaffney and former officer Joseph Walsh appear at a pre-trial hearing in Chicago. – AP