New information has shown that more police than previously suspected were involved in the cover-up to conceal the killing of a Black teen in Chicago. CNN reports “now, five years later, the investigative report from Inspector General Joseph Ferguson reveals the full extent of what his office described as an elaborate cover-up by 16 officers and supervisors, including former police officer Jason Van Dyke, who fired the shots.”
The 2014 killing of Black teenager Laquan McDonald by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke led to a massive outcry around the nation.
When the footage of the incident was released after a lawsuit, many people were shocked to witness events totally different from the police narrative presented at the time. The teen, who was shot 16 times, was not posing a threat to police officers the way initial reports made it appear.
Ultimately, Van Dyke would face trial and be convicted for second-degree murder with a sentence of six years and nine months. The case went on to implicate many in a cover-up that went from the Chicago Police Department all the way up to former-Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office, who left his position with a tarnished legacy. It also led to reforms and cost several police officers inside the department their jobs, including the former police Chief Gary McCarthy.
This newly released information, however, reveals sinister actions taken by a network of police authorities to protect themselves and withhold the truth. Officers are said to have “failed to ensure their video or audio recording systems were working, according to the report. And a former lieutenant who led the shooting investigation allegedly destroyed handwritten notes from witness interviews, the documents said.”
Van Dyke is only now stepping down and resigning “ahead of formal termination proceedings before the Chicago Police Board.” The case has led to infighting and different shifts in blame about what role those involved played. But ultimately, it has exposed a deep-seated issue within the police department.
While police in Chicago struggle to maintain an image of respect - an image typically reserved for those committed to protecting and serving the public - the latest developments are more than just a setback. For many, they’re a confirmation that police can circumvent justice and protect themselves when they have the desire to do so.
Any journey to recovering from this case for police in Chicago will be tainted by this new information for years to come.