An attorney for a fired Chicago police officer says his client didn’t intentionally lie about how he saw the fatal 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald by officer Jason Van Dyke.
Ricardo Viramontes and three other officers were fired last year by the Chicago Police Board because of statements made to an investigating detective or in police reports. The statements did not match video footage of the teenager’s slaying.
Viramontes was fired for several Chicago Police Department rule violations, including making false statements, bringing discredit to the department and failing to promote its goals.
In appealing Viramontes’ firing in Cook County Circuit Court, attorney Thomas Needham urged Judge Sophia Hall to closely examine the slow-motion video of the shooting, which the lawyer says supports his client’s story. Viramontes told the lead detective at the scene of the shooting that the teenager tried to get up with a knife in his hand after being shot. Video of the shooting did not show that.
The Chicago Tribune reports that in his brief filed last week, Needham wrote there is no evidence Viramontes intentionally lied to Detective David March, adding the officer’s brief interaction with the detective should not have been considered a formal interview.
"Any conflict between what was said in that brief conversation and how the incident appeared on video can certainly be a simple mistake rather than an intentional lie,” Needham said in the filing.
In his hearing before the police board, Viramontes testified he saw McDonald make a “twisting motion” toward Van Dyke and his partner, Officer Jason Walsh, which the board dismissed, noting the teen was moving away from the officers when he was shot to death.
Van Dyke was convicted of murder and is serving a six-year, nine-month prison sentence. A judge cleared March, Walsh and a third officer of criminal conspiracy charges. The three other officers fired with Viramontes are also appealing their firings.