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4 Chicago cops fired for allegedly covering up fatal shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald

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An attorney for the white Chicago police convicted in the fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald says the officer was beaten by fellow inmates within hours of his transfer from an Illinois prison to a federal prison in Connecticut. (Feb. 14)
AP

Four Chicago police officers were fired Thursday for allegedly covering up the fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a white officers five years ago.

The nine-member board Chicago Police Board found the officers exaggerated the threat posed by the 17-year-old McDonald to justify his shooting by officer Jason Van Dyke.

The board voted unanimously to fire Sgt. Stephen Franko, and officers Janet Mondragon and Ricardo Viramontes. All but one voted to fire Daphne Sebastian because of violations of department rules. She was not found to have made false reports.

Six other officers originally singled out for investigation left the department before they could be disciplined.

Patrick Murray, first vice president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, criticized the board’s decision, saying the officers did nothing wrong.

“It is obvious that this Police Board has out-served its usefulness,” he said, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Van Dyke is serving a more than six-year prison term for second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.

The officer, who was convicted last year, had confronted McDonald after police were called to a parking lot on the southwest side of Chicago in response to reports of a person breaking into trucks and stealing radios.

Officers arrived to find the teenager, who was allegedly high on PCP, walking erratically in the street with a small knife.

Van Dyke opened fire within seconds of getting out of his squad car, shooting the teen 16 times, many after McDonald had fallen to the ground. The shooting was captured on police dashcam video.

In 2016, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson accused the officers of either giving or approving knowingly false statements. None of the four were charged criminally, but were assigned to desk duty. The dismissals can be appealed through a lawsuit.

A Cook County judge acquitted three other officers in January of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct charges in the case. The judge rejected the contention that a video of McDonald’s death proved police officers staged a cover-up.

Franko was accused of approving false police reports that McDonald attempted to stab Van Dyke and another officer and had in fact injured Van Dyke.

Mondragon was accused of falsely reporting that she did not see the shooting because she was shifting the gear of her squad car. She was also accused of incompetence for not inspecting the video equipment in her car to see if it was working and recording events.

Viramontes was accused of reporting that McDonald continued to move after he shot and that he tried to get up with the knife still in his hand. He maintained that view even when an investigator showed him a video of the shooting.

Sebastian was determined to have given misleading and inconsistent statements to investigators that McDonald turned toward Van Dyke and another officer with a knife in a motion toward them.

The case created an uproar within the Chicago criminal justice system. Then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired police superintendent, Gerry McCarty, while Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, the top prosecutor, lost her re-election bid.

The incident also led a U.S. Justice Department investigation to find a “pervasive cover-up culture” that prompted plans for far-reaching police reforms.

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Rev. Marvin Hunter speaks to reporters after a judge acquitted three Chicago police officers of trying to cover up the 2014 shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, in Chicago. Judge Domenica Stephenson said that after considering all of the evidence, including police dashcam video of the killing, she didn’t find that officer Thomas Gaffney, Joseph Walsh and David March conspired to cover up the shooting. The officer who shot McDonald 16 times, Jason Van Dyke, was convicted of murder in October and is due to be sentenced Friday. Noreen Nasir, APChicago Police Officer Thomas Gaffney, back left, sits next to ex-officer Joseph Walsh, back right, as they listens to a judge’s ruling at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 in Chicago. A judge acquitted three Chicago police officers of trying to cover up the 2014 shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Judge Domenica Stephenson said that after considering all of the evidence, including police dashcam video of the killing, she didn’t find that officer Gaffney, Walsh and David March conspired to cover up the shooting. The officer who shot McDonald 16 times, Jason Van Dyke, was convicted of murder in October and is due to be sentenced Friday. Pool photo by Zbigniew BzdakIn this Nov. 27, 2015, file photo, protesters take part in a “march for justice” in Chicago, in the wake of the release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald. Special prosecutor Patricia Brown-Holmes announced Tuesday, June 27, 2017, that three Chicago police officers were indicted on felony charges that they conspired to cover up the actions of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in the killing of McDonald. The indictment, approved by a Cook County grand jury, alleges that one current and two former officers lied about the events of Oct. 20, 2014 when Van Dyke shot the black teenager 16 times. Nam Y. Huh, APA frame grab from a dash cam video released by the Chicago Police on Nov. 24, 2015 which shows the fatal shooting of 17 year-old Laquan McDonald, center, by Chicago police officers, left, in Chicago, Ill. Oct. 20, 2014. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder on Nov. 24, 2015. He allegedly shot Laquan McDonald 16 times, continuing fire after the teenager fell to the ground, and stopped only after another police officer told him to do so. A police video of the shooting was released on 24 November, and the police force had ordered officers to prepare for possible protests, the Chicago Tribune newspaper reported. Cook Country State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez had taken more than a year to investigate the incident before filing the murder charge, but said she moved to file charges ahead of the video’s release. Van Dyke has turned himself in and was being held without bail. The police union has said Van Dyke acted in fear of his life after McDonald lunged at him with a knife. Chicago Police via EPA

  • Former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke, left and his attorney Daniel Herbert exit following his sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Jan. 18, 2019 in Chicago.  Van Dyke was sentenced to six years and nine months for the 2014 fatal shooting of 17-year-old African-American Laquan McDonald.1 of 32
  • Former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke, left,reacts during his sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Jan. 18, 2019 in Chicago. Van Dyke was sentenced to six years and nine months for the 2014 fatal shooting of 17-year-old African-American Laquan McDonald.2 of 32
  • Chicago Police Officers guard the area outside of the Leighton Criminal Courts Building during the sentencing of the Officer Jason Van Dyke on Jan. 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke, a white police officer, is to be sentenced Friday for the fatal shooting of McDonald, and African-American 17-year-old, in 2014. 3 of 32
  • A man, with a Pan-African flag, protests outside of the Leighton Criminal Courts Building during the sentencing of Officer Jason Van Dyke on Jan. 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. 4 of 32
  • Edward Nance, who alleged he was roughed up by Officer Jason Van Dyke during a traffic stop on the South Side in 2007, testifies at Van Dyke's sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building Jan. 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke was found guilty in October 2018 of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the on-duty shooting of McDonald.5 of 32
  • Prosecutors called Jeremy Mayers testifies about how former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke handled him in 2011 during Van Dyke's sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building Jan. 18, 2019 in Chicago, Ill.6 of 32
  • Former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke and his attorney Daniel Herbert attend Van Dyke's sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building Jan. 18, 2019 in Chicago, Ill. 7 of 32
  • Tiffany Van Dyke wife of former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke attends his sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, in Chicago, for the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald.8 of 32
  • Rev. Marvin Hunter speaks to reporters after a judge acquitted three Chicago police officers of trying to cover up the 2014 shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, in Chicago. Judge Domenica Stephenson said that after considering all of the evidence, including police dashcam video of the killing, she didn't find that officer Thomas Gaffney, Joseph Walsh and David March conspired to cover up the shooting. The officer who shot McDonald 16 times, Jason Van Dyke, was convicted of murder in October and is due to be sentenced Friday.9 of 32
  • Chicago Police Officer Thomas Gaffney, back left, sits next to ex-officer Joseph Walsh, back right, as they listens to a judge's ruling at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 in Chicago. A judge acquitted three Chicago police officers of trying to cover up the 2014 shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Judge Domenica Stephenson said that after considering all of the evidence, including police dashcam video of the killing, she didn't find that officer Gaffney, Walsh and David March conspired to cover up the shooting. The officer who shot McDonald 16 times, Jason Van Dyke, was convicted of murder in October and is due to be sentenced Friday. 10 of 32
  • Former Detective David March listens to the judge's ruling at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 in Chicago. 11 of 32
  • Ex-Chicago Police Officer Joseph Walsh, center, listens to the judge's ruling, at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. 12 of 32
  • Community activist William Calloway gets emotional as he speaks to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, in Chicago, after jury found white Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the 2014 shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald.13 of 32
  • Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke dabs his eyes as he testifies in his murder trial Tuesday Oct. 2, 2018, in Chicago, for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald.14 of 32
  • Tina Hunter, mother of Laquan McDonald, watches during the murder trial of Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke at the Leighton Criminal Court Building Sept. 24, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke is charged with shooting and killing 17-year-old McDonald, who was walking away from police down a street holding a knife four years ago. 15 of 32
  • Lead defense attorney Daniel Herbert gestures at an animated video during the trial of Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke at the Leighton Criminal Court Building Sept. 25, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke, who is white, is charged with shooting and killing black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was walking away from police down a street holding a knife four years ago. 16 of 32
  • Jason Van Dyke's lawyer, Daniel Herbert, motions with the 3-inch blade Laquan McDonald carried the night he was fatally shot, during opening statements in the trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Sept. 17, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke is on trial for the murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald who died after allegedly being shot by Van Dyke 16 times on October 20, 2014. 17 of 32
  • In this Nov. 27, 2015, file photo, protesters take part in a march for justice  in Chicago, in the wake of the release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald. Special prosecutor Patricia Brown-Holmes announced Tuesday, June 27, 2017, that three Chicago police officers were indicted on felony charges that they conspired to cover up the actions of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in the killing of McDonald. The indictment, approved by a Cook County grand jury, alleges that one current and two former officers lied about the events of Oct. 20, 2014 when Van Dyke shot the black teenager 16 times.18 of 32
  • Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, charged with murder in the 2014 videotaped shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald, walks in the courtroom at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago on Wednesday, March 23, 2016, for a status hearing in his case. A judge gave prosecutors until May 5 to respond to a petition requesting that a special prosecutor take over in the case. 19 of 32
  • Protestors lie in the street as they march, chant, shout and block intersections and stores along Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile' shopping area as they call for the resignation of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, Ill. on Dec. 24, 2015. Activists called for the demonstration on Christmas Eve as they continue to display dissatisfaction over the handling of the investigation into the police shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald. 20 of 32
  • Demonstrators hold a vigil in Federal Building Plaza after marching through downtown on Dec. 12, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  A recently released video showing the shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke has sparked almost daily protests in the city and calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign for trying to cover up the circumstances surrounding the shooting. 21 of 32
  • CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 11:  Demonstrators block a downtown intersection on Dec. 11, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  A recently released video showing the shooting of Laquan McDonald by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke has sparked protests and calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign for trying to cover up the circumstances surrounding the shooting.  22 of 32
  • Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer outside the mayor's office in City Hall on Dec. 7, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. 23 of 32
  • Protesters march on Michigan Avenue chanting and blocking traffic after the release of a video showing Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, shooting 17 year old Laquan McDonald on  Oct. 20, 2014, in Chicago, Ill on Nov. 27, 2015. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder, on 24 November 2015.24 of 32
  • Demonstrators confront police during a protest following the release of a video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing Laquan McDonald on Nov. 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke was charged today with first degree murder for the October 20, 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets.  25 of 32
  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left, and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy appear at a news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago, announcing first-degree murder charges against police officer Jason Van Dyke in the Oct. 24, death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The city then released the dash-cam video of the shooting to media outlets after the news conference.26 of 32
  • Rev. Jesse Jackson right, hugs Fred Hampton Jr., left, after a vigil for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot and killed Oct. 20, 2014 in Chicago. Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, with first degree murder in the killing.  Hampton's father Fred Hampton Sr. was the Illinois chapter President of the Black Panther Party and was shot and killed in 1969. 27 of 32
  • Protesters take to the streets chanting and blocking traffic after the release of a video showing Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, shooting 17 year old Laquan McDonald in Chicago, Ill. on 24 Nov. 24, 2015. A judge denied bond for Van Dyke who is accused of shooting McDonald 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014.28 of 32
  • A memorial to 17-year-old Laquan McDonald and other victims of violence at the Sullivan House Alternative High School in Chicago is seen on April 17, 2015. McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. A judge has ordered the video of the shooting to be made public.29 of 32
  • In this handout provided by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke poses for a mugshot photo after he was was arrested for the shooting death of an African-American teen in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014 after responding to a call of a knife wielding man who had threatened the complainant and was attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard.30 of 32
  • A handout image provided by the Office of the Medical Examiner of Cook County, Illinois, on Nov. 24, 2015, shows a diagram of bullet holes allegedly suffered by 17 year-old Laquan McDonald in a police shooting incident in October 2014. The 17 year-old was allegedly shot 16 times by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke on 20 October 2014.31 of 32
  • A frame grab from a dash cam video released by the Chicago Police on Nov. 24, 2015 which shows the fatal shooting of 17 year-old Laquan McDonald, center, by Chicago police officers, left, in Chicago, Ill. Oct. 20, 2014. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder on Nov. 24, 2015. He allegedly shot Laquan McDonald 16 times, continuing fire after the teenager fell to the ground, and stopped only after another police officer told him to do so. A police video of the shooting was released on 24 November, and the police force had ordered officers to prepare for possible protests, the Chicago Tribune newspaper reported. Cook Country State's Attorney Anita Alvarez had taken more than a year to investigate the incident before filing the murder charge, but said she moved to file charges ahead of the video's release. Van Dyke has turned himself in and was being held without bail. The police union has said Van Dyke acted in fear of his life after McDonald lunged at him with a knife. 32 of 32

Contributing: Associated Press

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