Detective acquitted in Laquan McDonald conspiracy case has record expunged
David March, the lead detective in the Chicago Police investigation that cleared Jason Van Dyke in the Laquan McDonald shooting, was acquitted earlier this year.
A Cook County judge Thursday expunged the criminal record of the Chicago police detective who headed the department-led investigation that cleared Officer Jason Van Dyke of wrongdoing in the deadly Laquan McDonald shooting.
Det. David March and Officers Thomas Gaffney and Joseph Walsh were acquitted early this year of filing false police reports to cover for Van Dyke, who shot 17-year-old McDonald 16 times while on duty in 2014.
At the brief hearing Thursday, Chief Criminal Courts Judge LeRoy K. Martin Jr. issued an order expunging March’s record. The special prosecution team that handled the conspiracy case against March was not at the hearing, but March’s lawyer, Jim McKay, said a member of the trial team said there was no objection to the expungement.
Under state law, defendants found not guilty of criminal charges, or who have charges against them dropped, can petition to have their criminal record cleared.
Outside the courtroom, McKay said March, 61, has struggled to find work since he was charged, and deserved to have a clean record.
“He’s never been in trouble. He’s innocent in this case, and he’d like to get a job,” McKay said as his client stood silently beside him. “Is there anything wrong with treating him fairly?”
March signed off on reports that prosecutors said included false statements that conflicted with video of the shooting, eventually clearing Van Dyke of wrongdoing.
Van Dyke remained on duty until he was charged with first-degree murder more than a year later when dashcam video of the shooting was released. Van Dyke was convicted last year of second-degree murder, and is serving a nearly seven-year prison sentence. He resigned from the police department earlier this month.
March, a 30-year police veteran, retired in August 2016, weeks after a city Inspector General report recommended that he be fired. March is beyond the age limit to be rehired by the department, and department rules would have placed him on the no-rehire list because he retired while under investigation. Pension records indicate March has been receiving monthly payments of $6,956 per month since October 2016.
The IG’s report called March “the critical touchstone to a hub and spoke manufacturing the manifestly false narrative” that McDonald was moving aggressively toward Van Dyke and his partner, Walsh, when Van Dyke opened fire. March’s conclusions, the report stated, did not match video that showed McDonald appearing to move away from the officers as he was shot.
Walsh also retired after the IG report was issued. Gaffney has returned to duty.
March, Walsh and Gaffney were charged in 2017, roughly a year after the special prosecutor team headed by former Judge Patricia Brown Holmes opened its investigation into how the department handled the internal probe that cleared Van Dyke.