Chicago Police Move to Fire Jason Van Dyke, 4 Other Officers in Laquan McDonald Case

Officer Jason Van Dyke made numerous "false, misleading, inaccurate and/or inconsistent statements to members of the Department," police charging documents say

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson has filed termination charges for five Chicago police officers involved in the Laquan McDonald shooting following a report from the Inspector General’s office.

According to charging documents revealed Tuesday, officers Jason Van Dyke, Daphne Sebastian, Janet Mondragon, Ricardo Viramontes and Stephen Franko face administrative charges as the case moves to the Chicago Police Board. 

Van Dyke, the officer who shot McDonald, has also been charged with first-degree murder by Cook County prosecutors. He has pleaded not guilty and his trial is expected to commence next year.

Van Dyke shot 17-year-old McDonald 16 times in 2014. Dashcam footage of the shooting, which appears to contradict the police account of what happened, was made public late last year and sparked outrage and protests nationwide.

Five officers now face administrative charges, including making a false report. Four are accused of disobeying an order. It wasn't immediately clear if the Chicago police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, had a comment about the charges.

According to the documents, Van Dyke is accused of giving false official reports, including his allegation that McDonald raised a knife across his chest and pointed it at the officer, that McDonald attempted to kill him, and that Van Dyke was moving backwards when he fired the 16 fatal shots. Those contentions were contradicted by the dashcam video released by Chicago Police last fall, which showed McDonald apparently walking away from officers when he was fatally shot. 

The remaining four officers, Janet Mondragon, Daphne Sebastian, Ricardo Viramontes, and Sgt. Stephen Franko, face charges of making false reports about what they saw on the street that night. 

Among the charges:

  • Sebastian is accused of reporting that McDonald advanced on Officers Jason Van Dyke and Joseph Walsh while waving a knife despite orders to "drop the kinfe." The statement also said McDonald "continued to move after he fell to the ground, or words to that effect," documents show. 
  • The charges against Mondragon say she was either lying or gave misleading statements when she said she was looking down while putting her squad car in park, and did not witness the shooting.
  • Viramontes allegedly said McDonald turned toward Officers Van Dyke and Walsh and after he fell to the ground McDonald attempted to get back up with the knife still in his hand. 
  • Franko is accused of claiming McDonald's actions constituted an assault and said McDonald attempted to stab or cut Van Dyke and another officer. 
Several of the officers were also charged with mishandling the Department’s new recording equipment.

The charges follow a report from the Inspector General's office recommending 10 officers in the case that has made national headlines be fired. 

Of that 10, three have since retired and one resigned after Tuesday's charges were filed. The department is also disputing that one of the officers should be fired.

"CPD is committed to ensuring the highest levels of integrity, accountability and professional standards for all members of the Police Department. After considerable deliberation and a methodical review of the evidence presented by the Office of inspector General, we have filed termination charges against the affected officers for giving false statements during the investigation into the Laquan McDonald incident," the department said in a statement. "This matter will be now adjudicated before the Chicago Police Board and the Department continues to cooperate with the ongoing criminal investigations into this incident."

The names of the officers who had already retired by Tuesday have not been released, but two high-ranking officers retired earlier this month. Those officers include First Deputy Superintendent John Escalante, who accepted a position as the chief of police for Northeastern Illinois University, and Deputy Chief David McNaughton.

McNaughton is the Chicago police officer who signed off on the report that initially cleared Officer Jason Van Dyke in McDonald's shooting.

As for the one officer the department decided against firing, CPD said in a statement that "there is sufficient doubt" she made statements attributed to her in official CPD reports. 

"An analysis has shown that there is insufficient evidence to prove that she willfully made any false statement," the statement read. "Due to the ongoing criminal and administrative investigations, we cannot comment any further."

In addition to the Police Board matter, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is conducting a separate inquiry, and the United States Department of Justice is in the midst of a wide-ranging investigation of the entire Chicago Police Department.

Contact Us