Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson has moved to terminate seven officers who reportedly gave false information regarding the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, Johnson spared an eighth officer, who is female, because he disagreed with the city Inspector General’s recommendation for her to be fired as well.
Differing reports state that a total of eight officers were terminated. Atlanta Black Star reached out to the Chicago Police Department to confirm but was unable to get an answer.
The department and outside counsel reviewed reports from the 2014 shooting and found that the seven officers broke Rule 14: “Officers shall not give false information.”
“While I know that this type of action can come with many questions and varying opinions, please know that these decisions were not made lightly,” Johnson wrote in a message to rank-and-file officers Thursday. “As I have said before, with every decision that I make, I always keep in mind the tremendous sacrifice, bravery and commitment of every officer.”
Chicago’s WGN-TV reports that two of the officers cited in the Inspector General’s report have since retired; Deputy Chief David McNaughton was one of them.
Per the Sun Times, McNaughton was in charge of the crime scene in which Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shot McDonald 16 times on the night of Oct. 20, 2014. Video footage of the deadly shooting showed the 19-year-old Black man with a knife in his hand walking parallel, but away from, responding officers. In his report, however, McNaughton deemed the shooting justified and noted that McDonald was walking toward the officer when he was gunned down.
Other officers’ accounts of what happened that night also differ from what was captured on video. The graphic footage shows Van Dyke shooting the teen execution-style as he walked away.
“When McDonald got to within 12 to 15 feet of the officers, he swung the knife toward the officers in an aggressive manner,” Van Dyke’s partner said in an official police report.
Though he plead not guilty, Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in November 2015. He’s currently awaiting trial.
Earlier this year, evidence also revealed that the CPD intimidated witnesses, lost evidence and committed perjury in efforts to suppress the McDonald shooting investigation. According to Atlanta Black Star, citizens who witnessed the shooting said they were questioned for hours until their testimonies matched the police narrative.
“Civilian witnesses have told us that they were held against their will for hours, intensively questioned by detectives, during which they were repeatedly pressured by police to change their statements,” said Michael Robbins, an attorney for the McDonald family. “When the witnesses refused to do so, the investigating officers simply fabricated civilian accounts in the reports.”
Attorneys also said that although the CPD gathered several eyewitness accounts, they refused to hand them over when requested.
This latest bombshell involving the eight police officers is just another part of the cover-up in McDonald’s death investigation. Before horrifying video of the shooting was released, the City of Chicago spent ample time and money suppressing the footage. According to ABS, they quickly offered the McDonald family a $5 million settlement, even before they filed a lawsuit.
The shooting and attempted cover-up sparked national outrage across the country, as protesters demanded justice for McDonald and his family.
Although Supt. Johnson has stripped the eight officers of their police status, he doesn’t have the power to terminate them unilaterally, the New York Times reports. The unidentified officers will also have a chance to contest their firings before Chicago’s Police Board. Members of the board are appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, according to the publication.