Chicago officers acquitted of attempted cover up in Laquan McDonald shooting

Chicago officers acquitted of attempted cover up in Laquan McDonald shooting
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Three Chicago police officers accused of covering up the murder of Laquan McDonald were acquitted in court on Thursday.

Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson ruled that evidence, including dashcam footage of the shooting, proved that Thomas Gaffney, Joseph Walsh and David March did not conspire to cover up the killing, according to The Associated Press.

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McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. Dashcam video released a year after the shooting led to widespread outcry.

Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder of the black teenager in October. He was also found guilty on 16 counts of aggravated battery for each gunshot.

The three other officers were charged in 2017 with lying in police reports to exaggerate the threat posed by McDonald.

The judge on Thursday rejected the conspiracy case against the three officers, which was based on inconsistencies between the video and the official reports they filed.

McDonald’s great uncle, Marvin Hunter, said the ruling in favor of the officers proves “the entire Cook County legal system (is) corrupt,” The Chicago Tribune reported.

“This is not justice,” Hunter told reporters. “This judge had made up her mind … to make sure these officers never saw the inside of a jail.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) had fired the city's police superintendent in late 2015 amid widespread outcry over the handling of the McDonald case. Cook County's top prosecutor was also voted out of office months later amid controversy over their defense of police actions in the case.

Lawyers representing the three defendants hailed the decision Thursday.

“(The officers) never should’ve been here. Never,” said attorney James McKay, who represented March, according to the Tribune. 

“The truth happened in that courtroom. This case wasn’t even close. And three innocent men had to be put through hell. These three men were innocent from day one.”

Updated: 4:39 p.m.