A Cook County Sheriff’s officer believes he was at Laquan McDonald’s side the moment he died after being shot by a Chicago police officer 16 times.
Officer Adam Murphy and Officer Jeff Pascua were on assignment with the sheriff’s office on Oct. 20, 2014 when they each saw a “flurry” of Chicago police officers rushing to the scene of a fatal shooting and followed the squad cars to see if they could help.
The two arrived at the scene separately after McDonald had been fatally shot, according to Cara Smith, chief of policy for the sheriff’s department.
“They did not see or hear the shots fired, nor were they ever made aware of what occurred,” Smith told NBC Chicago.
Once they arrived, Murphy offered to help McDonald, who was lying lifeless in the street after being shot. Smith said Murphy tried to comfort the boy and believes he was with McDonald when the teen died on the street that evening.
After that, Smith said both officers were told the situation was under control and they left the scene. Despite being present that night, however, no reports were filed.
“What they knew at the time was they offered assistance and were told their assistance wasn’t needed,” Smith said. “They had no idea of what had occurred that night.”
The sheriff’s office said it was contacted by the FBI in July, 2015 when investigators asked to question the officers. The pair testified before a grand jury in August, but their presence at the scene wasn’t widely known until a Chicago Tribune report Thursday indicated at least one officer was seen in dashcam video showing the shooting.
The report claims the officers arrived at the scene within seconds of McDonald being shot, but Chicago police reports make no mention of the officers being there that night.
McDonald’s death has sparked a series of protests in Chicago and prompted calls for the mayor’s and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s resignation. The officer involved in the shooting has since been charged with murder, but police reports from that night differ with what is seen in dashcam footage released last month.
Smith said Murphy’s vehicle was equipped with a dashcam, but the video system was part of a pilot program and wasn’t working at the time. She added the FBI took the camera as part of their investigation.
“[The officers] cooperated fully with the FBI since [the shooting] occurred,” Smith said. “It’s unfair to suggest they should have done differently.”