A previously confidential filing which was unsealed Thursday alleges an elaborate scheme by Chicago Police officers to cover up the truth of the Laquan McDonald shooting.
The filing, which is a de-facto roadmap of the case to be brought by Special Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes, alleges officers Thomas Gaffney and Joseph Walsh, and Detective David March, intentionally distorted the true facts of the McDonald shooting, portraying the teenager as a greater threat than he had been, in order to shield their fellow officer Jason Van Dyke from criminal investigation and prosecution.
The document, known as a proffer, alleges the officers created false or misleading police reports in the hours and days after the killing, in an effort to distort the official narrative in Van Dyke’s favor.
“The evidence will show that the defendants submitted virtually identical false information,” the filing states, “including that Laquan McDonald had battered, assaulted, and attacked Officer Individual A (Van Dyke), defendant Walsh, and defendant Gaffney.”
The document references the infamous police dash cam video of the shooting, as well as a surveillance video from a nearby Durkin Donuts. “In the video, Laquan McDonald does not batter, attack, or assault three Chicago Police Officers,” it states. Nevertheless, the officers allegedly prepared a false original case report, charging that Van Dyke “was injured by offender”, and that Van Dyke, Walsh, and Gaffney were “victims”.
Prosecutors also allege that the officers prepared three virtually identical Police Department Officer’s Battery Reports. Each of the reports stated, “NO. OF OFFICERS BATTERED 3,” and “MANNER OF ATTACK: STABBED/CUT (INCLUDING ACTUAL ATTEMPT).”
The officers’ reports allegedly included false information that McDonald continued aggressive moments toward Van Dyke, even after being hit by the initial volleys of gunfire.
“O IGNORED, RAISED R ARM TOWARD VD AS IF ATTACKING VD,” the reports stated. “O WALKING SIDEWAYS, BYDOY FACING E TOWARD JVD AND JW (Jason Van Dyke and Joseph Walsh).”
The reports also allegedly stated that “Laquan McDonald was shot and killed by Chicago Police Officer (Van Dyke) while McDonald was committing an aggravated assault with a knife against (Van Dyke) and his partner, Chicago Police Officer Joseph Walsh.”
Subsequent reports stated that in-car camera videos supported the narrative.
Perhaps the most startling aspect of the reports, was the account of McDonald on the ground.
“McDonald continued moving on the ground, attempting to get up, while still armed with a knife,” a statement attributed to Walsh said. Prosecutors further allege that March told an investigator for the Medical Examiner’s office, that McDonald “lunged at the officers with the knife.”
Prosecutors allege in the court filing that other unnamed officers seemed to support the narrative. One Sergeant is quoted as saying in a departmental email, “We are trained to shoot until the threat is eliminated, defeated or neutralized. We should be applauding him, not second guessing him.”
The filing’s release came on the same day Van Dyke’s homicide case was turned over to a Cook County jury. The other three officers are set to go on trial in November, charged with conspiracy, official misconduct, and obstruction of justice.