Laquan McDonald’s killer, Officer Jason Van Dyke currently awaits trial on the homicide charges in the case. Three officers who helped cover up the circumstances surrounding the police killings of the teenager in 2014 will face criminal conspiracy charges, a special prosecutor in Illinois announced Tuesday.
Initially, Van Dyke and other officers at the scene reported that the knife-wielding teen had lunged at officers, supposedly prompting Van Dyke to shoot him 16 times. Video proving that claim false was suppressed by the city, even after it had been reviewed by people in the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D). The video was only released 14 months later, after a successful public records lawsuit, by a local freelance journalist.
Similar records revealed emails indicating that Emanuel’s staff had seen the footage within months of the killing, but did not clarify whether Emanuel himself had viewed the footage or been told that it showed sworn officers of the Chicago Police Department were engaged in a cover-up. When staff first learned of the tapes, the emails show, Emanuel was just a few months away from re-election.
“It was the object of the conspiracy to conceal the true facts of the events surrounding the killing of Laquan McDonald,” Tuesday’s indictment says. “[T]he co-conspirators lied about what occurred and mischaracterized the video recordings so that independent criminal investigators would not know the truth about the Laquan McDonald killing and the public would not see the video recordings of the events.”