Moments after three Chicago police officers were found not guilty of attempting to cover up what happened the night Laquan McDonald was shot in 2014, one of the most prominent activists in the case called for protestors to stay off the streets and head to the polls.
"Don't protest. Don't take to the streets," said William Calloway, who fought to get video of Laquan McDonald's shooting released. "It's time that we take to the polls."
Urging supporters to vote instead of march, Calloway, who said he was "devastated" by Thursday's ruling, said "we're going to transcend from protests to politics."
Det. David March and officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney were acquitted Thursday of felony charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice for allegedly attempting to prevent or shape the investigation.
Judge Domenica Stephenson repeatedly stated the state failed to prove conspiracy or obstruction of justice, saying mistakes do not equate to lying.
Defense attorneys said "there never was a case," while prosecutors said they "disagreed with the ruling."
Critics of the department in wake of the shooting called the decision a "setback." Some vowed to protest, despite Calloways calls.
"I am surprised ... that this judge would take it upon herself to make the entire country know what I've known all the time, that justice is justice for everybody but African-Americans in this county of Cook," said McDonald's great-uncle Marvin Hunter.
Judge Stephenson announced the long-awaited verdict more than a month after the final witness testified in the trial.
Prosecutors claimed the three conspired in lying and falsifying reports to conceal what really happened the night Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shot McDonald.
Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in October 2018. He is slated to be sentenced Friday.
All three officers were on the scene on Oct. 20, 2014, when Van Dyke fired 16 shots at McDonald, according to prosecutors.
"This has been a crack in the wall of the code of silence and that others will think twice about engaging in conduct that will land them in a situation such as this," said special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes.