The Laquan McDonald shooting scandal just keeps getting bigger. The latest allegations from several media sources imply that the corruption scandal goes all the way to the top, indicating the Chicago Police Department is rotten to the core.
News reports state that Chicago PD not only covered for Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times, but they also intimidated witnesses and suppressed evidence.
According to CNN, at least five other officers witnessed Van Dyke shoot McDonald execution style, but they all later reported that McDonald lunged for Van Dyke.
“When McDonald got to within 12 to 15 feet of the officers, he swung the knife toward the officers in an aggressive manner,” Van Dyke’s partner said in an official police report. However the recently released dash video camera showed McDonald was walking away from police when he was shot.
Several citizens also witnessed the McDonald shooting. But they claim they were interrogated by cops until their testimonies fit the police narrative.
“Civilian witnesses have told us that they were held against their will for hours, intensively questioned by detectives, during which they were repeatedly pressured by police to change their statements. When the witnesses refused to do so, the investigating officers simply fabricated civilian accounts in the reports,” said Michael Robbins, an attorney for the McDonald family, in a letter to Thomas Platt, deputy corporation counsel of Chicago.
A truck driver who witnessed the shooting said he and two other civilians were taken to a police station and held for six hours until they changed their testimony.
“He kept describing it and he said the police were visibly angry with him and arguing with him about what happened, saying, ‘That’s not what happened,’ ” Robbins said. “He’d say, ‘Well, that’s what I saw.’ They said, ‘No, you’re wrong.’ ”
Another witness told the McDonald family that an officer threatened her if she didn’t change her testimony. Attorneys for the McDonald family also say that although police collected all these eyewitness statements, they never provided them when requested.
“We saw these [summaries] by the three witnesses who were interviewed at the station — that police say they didn’t see anything. We said, ‘Where’s the witness statements?’ We were told there were no witness statements,” Robbins said.
Attorney Jeffrey Neslund told CNN a cover up this large needed the involvement of senior-level police officers.
“It’s not just the officers on the street,” Neslund said. “It’s a lieutenant, a sergeant and detectives — and the lengths they went to justify what simply was not true.”
The Chicago PD is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for failure to discipline wayward officers. Van Dyke is the first Chicago police officer to be charged with second-degree murder for an on-duty fatality in 35 years.
CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson said the latest revelations could end careers.
“In the event that it’s true, you have multiple underlying charges: intimidating witnesses, falsifying public records and you have a conspiracy that more than one person was involved,” Jackson said. “This has the potential of taking down a lot of people in that police department.”
The scandal could also take down Mayor Rahm Emanuel. According to The Daily Beast, emails revealed City of Chicago lawyers briefed Emanuel before deciding to offer the McDonald family a $5 million settlement, provided they kept quiet about the details of the video.