Crusader Staff Report
A Cook County judge has pushed back the trial of three Chicago police officers charged with covering up the Laquan McDonald shooting in 2014.
The trial for former Detective David March, ex-Officer Joseph Walsh and Officer Thomas Gaffney was originally scheduled to start July 10, but Judge Domenica Stephenson tentatively postponed the proceedings to November 26. The move came after defense lawyers said they wouldn’t be ready in time for the trial in July.
The impending trial will be a separate proceeding from the trial involving Officer Jason Van Dyke who was charged with first degree murder after shooting McDonald 16 times in 2014. Van Dyke’s case has been stuck in pre-trial hearings for over two years.
Special Prosecutor Patricia Holmes is handling the case involving the three officers who are charged with official misconduct and obstruction of justice. They also face conspiracy charges that they gave false statements that portrayed McDonald as a threat before he was gunned down after a police chase. A dash cam video that was released a year later contradicted the officers’ narrative.
Lawyers for the officers filed a motion to dismiss the charges but Stephenson on Tuesday, June 19, ordered the filings sealed at the request of Attorney Will Fahy who represents Gaffney. The move restricts the public from viewing the filing.
In late May, Stephenson implemented a “gag” order that bars attorneys from speaking substantively about the case outside of court. The public release of the evidence was also prohibited.
A similar situation occurred in Van Dyke’s case where Judge Vincent Gaughan twice kicked reporters out of the courtroom and ordered certain filings sealed and kept from the public. After an appeal by several Chicago media organizations, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Gaughan’s actions were unconstitutional and ordered him to end his practice of sending court filings directly to his chambers.