The Crusader Newspaper Group

Laquan McDonald grand jury ends investigation

Crusader staff report

After reviewing evidence, listening to testimonies and questioning witnesses, the grand jury in the Laquan McDonald cover up case has wrapped up its investigation of Chicago police officers accused of lying to protect an officer who shot the teenager 16 times in 2014.

Special Prosecutor Patricia Holmes said no more indictments were handed down as the grand jury completed its investigation and disbanded, one year after the probe began.

“The Special Grand Jury met numerous times; issued subpoenas for, received, and reviewed evidence; heard testimony from witnesses; had an opportunity to pose questions and have them answered, and returned a true bill of indictment with respect to the three accused individuals who are presumed innocent in the pending criminal case,” Holmes said in a statement.

Holmes is a former Cook County judge and federal prosecutor who was appointed special prosecutor in September 2016. Civil rights leaders and activists argued that then Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez would not effectively handle the case, after she waited 13 months to charge Officer Jason Van Dyke for killing McDonald.

In a separate case, Van Dyke faces first-degree murder for killing McDonald three years ago in October 2014 near the intersection of 41st Street and S. Pulaski. Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon is the special prosecutor handling the murder, which has been in the pre-trial phase for 17 months now.

Numerous officers at the scene said McDonald approached them with a knife, but a dashcam video of the incident contradicted their narrative.

In the cover up case, Brown in June announced the grand jury gave a three-count indictment charging patrol officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney and detective David March with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct.

The men are accused of filing false accounts of the shooting to keep Van Dyke from being accused of police brutality and using excessive force in killing McDonald. Holmes said the three failed to interview witnesses who might have contradicted their account of what happened that evening.

March resigned in 2016 after a city of Chicago Inspector General’s report said he should be fired for his role in handling the case. The report also called for the termination of Walsh, Van Dyke’s partner, who claimed that McDonald had been moving toward him.

The indictments marked the first time that CPD officers had been charged for following an unwritten “code of silence” that police officers have, protecting one another in controversial shootings.

At several hearings, Holmes said she had difficulty locating witnesses and some of them were unavailable to attend the proceedings at the Leighton Criminal Court building on Chicago’s West Side.

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