Chicago Police Board Fires Four Officers Accused of Covering Up, Making False Reports About Laquan McDonald Shooting

Four Chicago police officers were fired on Thursday for their roles in an alleged cover-up in the 2014 shooting of Black teen Laquan McDonald by former officer Jason Van Dyke.

The Chicago Police Board voted unanimously to fire Sgt. Stephen Franko and officers Janet Modragon, Daphne Sebastian and Ricardo Viramontes for making false statements, among other violations, the Chicago Tribune reported. All four will have the chance to appeal the decision, which was effective immediately.

Laquan McDonald

Three Chicago officers and a sergeant are accused of making false statements about the night Laquan McDonald was fatally shot by then-officer Jason Van Dyke. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“The department is bound by the decision of the board,” Chicago Police spokesman Thomas Ahern told ABC News in a statement. “The affected members have further options they may exercise if they so choose.”

In their review, the board found that the cops exaggerated the threat they say was posed by 17-year-old McDonald, who was armed with a knife and high on PCP the night Van Dyke shot him 16 times. The former officer said he shot in self-defense, claiming that then teen ignored his commands and lunged at him with the knife.

Dashcam video from the incident, released in November 2015, showed McDonald walking away from the officer as he emptied his clip into the young man on Oct. 20, 2014. The footage sparked national outrage and massive protests demanding investigations into the shooting.

Van Dyke was ultimately charged in McDonald’s killing, a jury indicting him on second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He was convicted in October 2018 and later sentenced to six years and nine months in prison.

It its findings, the police board wrote that Modragon, Sebastian and Viramontes lied or exaggerated the events of that night in an effort to protect Van Dyke. All three were present when McDonald was killed.

The board said that Franko, a supervisor, “failed to properly supervise his officers” that night and later reviewed and approved the false reports provided by the officers.

“It was their statements that would be used by investigators to determine whether the fatal shooting of Mr. McDonald was justified — or whether a crime by their fellow officer had been committed,” the board’s 55-page decision read. “As sworn officers, each understood the importance of their statements to that investigation and understood that their statements must be truthful and complete. Each of the three officers failed in their duty — either by outright lying or by shading the truth.”

The city’s police union, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, slammed the board’s decision and argued that the officers did nothing wrong.

“These officers served the citizens of this city with courage, integrity, and adherence to the rule of law,” Martin Preib, second vice president of the FOP, said in a statement. “Too bad you couldn’t do the same.”

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