The start of the trial of three Chicago police officers accused of falsifying reports to cover up for fellow Officer Jason Van Dyke has been postponed to allow the three defendants to attend funeral services of the officer killed in this week’s shooting at Mercy Hospital.
The trial of Officer Thomas Gaffney, retired Officer Joseph Walsh and retired Det. David March was set to begin Monday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, the same day funeral services for Officer Samuel Jimenez are to take place in north suburban Des Plaines.
The bench trial in front of Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson will now begin on Tuesday, and is expected to last about a week.
Jimenez was gunned down at Mercy Hospital on Monday, by a gunman who also shot and killed his fiancé, ER doctor Tamara O’Neal, and pharmacy assistant Dayna Less. The gunman also died in the incident. Jimenez, 28, had been a CPD officer for just two years, and is the second CPD officer killed in the line of duty this year.
Gaffney, Walsh and March were charged in an alleged conspiracy to cover for Van Dyke, who fired 16 shots at 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Gaffney and his partner were the first officers to encounter McDonald the night the teenager was killed, Walsh was Van Dyke’s partner the night of the shooting and March was the lead detective on the CPD investigation of the shooting.
Federal investigators probed the shooting in 2014, but no charges were filed in the case until then State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez filed first-degree murder charges against Van Dyke more than a year later, on the same day that video of the shooting was released to the public by the city.
Activists petitioned the courts to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate CPD’s handling of the investigation, which cleared Van Dyke of wrongdoing.
A year after she was appointed Special Prosecutor, Patricia Brown Holmes announced charges against Gaffney, Walsh and March.
Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in October. He is awaiting sentencing.