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Chicago Finally Fired 4 Cops Accused of Covering Up the Murder of Laquan McDonald

They had been on desk duty since 2016.

by Emma Ockerman
Jul 19 2019, 3:00pm

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Four Chicago cops were fired Thursday night over accusations that they helped cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager, nearly five years ago, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot and killed the 17-year-old, infamously argued he feared for his life, since McDonald was carrying a small knife when officers found him high on PCP late one night in October 2014. But dashcam footage revealed more than a year after McDonald’s death showed Van Dyke shot the teen as he appeared to walk away from officers. He then shot McDonald several times after the teen fell to the ground and lay dying.

For years, officers Richard Viramontes, Janet Mondragon, Stephen Franko, and Daphne Sebastian have been accused of lying to protect Van Dyke, who’s now serving a nearly seven-year prison sentence for murder, or getting in the way of justice. But only now did the Chicago Police Board vote to fire them. They had been on desk duty since 2016.

Viramontes, Mondragon, and Sebastian were all at the scene of McDonald’s murder, according to the Tribune, but allegedly lied about what they saw that night. Three of the officers omitted details from the night of the incident, and Franko, their supervisor, approved their false police report.

Other officers who allegedly aided in the cover-up — former cop Joseph Walsh, suspended officer Thomas Gaffney, and former detective David March — were acquitted of conspiracy and obstruction charges in January after a Cook County judge ruled the dashcam footage alone didn’t prove a cover-up occurred.

The four officers’ punishments comes during a contentious week for community relationships with law enforcement.

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice declined to bring federal civil rights charges against the New York City cop accused of choking and killing Eric Garner five years ago. And the Philadelphia Police Department moved to suspend and potentially fire 13 officers this week after an advocacy group unearthed hundreds of cops’ racist, homophobic, and violent Facebook posts.

Cover up: In this Nov. 24, 2015 file photo, Chicago police officers line up outside the District 1 central headquarters during a protest of the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

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