With Jason Van Dyke awaiting sentencing on second-degree murder and aggravated battery charges, and the conspiracy trial of three Chicago Police officers winding down this week, the city Police Board wants to move forward with its bid to fire Van Dyke and four other officers tied to the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald.
Lawyers for the Police Board on Tuesday filed a request with Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan asking him to lift an order sealing records and barring Van Dyke and his lawyers from talking about the 2014 shooting.
The motion states that there was no opposition from Patricia Brown Holmes, the special prosecutor who is expected Tuesday to wrap up the state’s case in the trial of Officers Thomas Gaffney, Joseph Walsh and David March who are accused of obstructing the police investigation of the McDonald shooting.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson in August 2016 moved to fire Van Dyke, as well as Sgt. Stephen Franko and Officers Janet Mondragon, Daphne Sebastian and Ricardo Viramontes after a city Inspector General report recommended the department part ways with 11 officers because of their misconduct related to the shooting or the investigation that followed.
The IG report had included March and Walsh on the list of officers to be fired. March and Walsh both retired from the force before Johnson made his recommendation. Gaffney, who was not named in the IG report, remains on the force, though he has been on unpaid suspension since he was charged in the conspiracy case.
The motion filed by the Police Board states it was notifying Gaughan of its intent to resume the termination proceedings out of an “abundance of caution,” alerting the judge that documents and statements that had been under seal in Van Dyke’s criminal trial would likely become public during the Police Board hearings.
Shortly after the verdict was entered in Van Dyke’s criminal case, Chicago police officials said that the state agency that licenses law enforcement officers pulled Van Dyke’s certification, so he was no longer a police officer.
Franko supervised officers at the scene of the shooting, and the IG’s report said he signed off on reports that falsely claimed that officers had been injured by 17-year-old McDonald before Van Dyke opened fire. The report also cited Franko for failing to discipline officers after learning audio equipment in their vehicles didn’t work.
Mondragon, Sebastian and Viramontes were on the scene when Van Dyke opened fire on McDonald, and are accused of making false statements in reports about the the deadly incident.
Mondragon, for example, reportedly said that she did not see Van Dyke fire 16 shots at McDonald because she was looking down as she parked.
The Police Board has scheduled a status hearing for the officers on Dec. 17, Executive Director Max Caproni said.