In Oct. 2014, a young, black male was shot to death by a police officer that went to on face no consequences.
But a video released to the public a year later has sparked controversy, and three officers are now being charged for conspiracy to cover up what really happened the night Laquan McDonald was murdered.
Thanks in part to his fellow offers, who helped to clean up the crime, Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was not immediately accused of wrongdoing.
The group falsely stated McDonald, 17, assaulted them, ignoring witnesses’ testimony who disputed their claims and providing misleading descriptions of what the video showed of the shooting.
Their efforts to cover up the event succeeded at first, but when the real video was released a year later, the community was outraged to learn the truth behind McDonald’s death.
As seen in the footage, Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times as he walked away from the officers.
The policeman is now being charged with first-degree murder, although, according to NPR, he is pleading not guilty.
The other three officers at the scene of McDonald’s shooting — David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney — are being accused of hiding crucial information in an effort to cover up Van Dyke’s actions.
A conspiracy charge, as well as charges for official misconduct, carry prison terms of up to five years.
“The indictment makes clear that these defendants did more than merely obey an unofficial ‘code of silence,’ ” Special Prosecutor Patricia Holmes Brown said in a statement. “[R]ather, it alleges that they lied about what occurred to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Van Dyke’s attorney Dan Herbert provided that the officers are being charged with conspiring to prevent the public from seeing the video recording of the event.
If the allegations are true, the entire command staff of the police department, including the former and current superintendents, could be implicated in taking part in the conspiracy, given their signatures on the shooting paperwork.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson released a statement describing the case as one that “forever changed the Chicago Police Department,” further promising to ensure a situation like this does not happen again.