A Cook County, Illinois, judge acquitted three Chicago police officers who were accused of hiding evidence in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald at the hands of a fellow cop, Fox News reported.
What are the details?
Former Detective David March, former Officer Joseph Walsh, and Officer Thomas Gaffney faced charges of conspiracy, official misconduct, and obstruction of justice in allegedly attempting to cover up details in the death of McDonald, who was shot by their former colleague Jason Van Dyke in 2014.
Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder in October for shooting the knife-wielding teenager 16 times after responding to a call about car break-ins. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday.
Prosecutors said March, Walsh, and Gaffney made false claims that McDonald ignored verbal commands from Van Dyke, wrongly saying that the teen had swung his knife at officers, and filed false police reports in an effort to protect Van Dyke.
But on Thursday, Judge Domenica Stephenson said that "the evidence shows just the opposite," according to Fox News. Stephenson pointed out that the officers preserved the patrol-car dashcam footage, which was the critical evidence ultimately used to convict Van Dyke.
Laquan McDonald's death was followed by widespread protests in Chicago, which led to the ouster of the police superintendent and several calls for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel (D) to step down after video footage of the incident was withheld for 13 months — released to the public on the orders of a judge after the mayor's re-election.
According to The Associated Press, the Chicago Police Department implemented changes following a federal investigation into the department's practices after McDonald's death. All footage of fatal police shootings are now required to be released within 60 days of an incident, and a program to equip all officers with body cameras was hastened.