4 Chicago cops fired for alleged Laquan McDonald shooting cover-up, Police Board announces

The officers were accused by CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson of giving or approving knowingly false statements in an effort to have the shooting of Laquan McDonald deemed justified.

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President of the Chicago Police Board Ghian Foreman along with other board members voting to fire four officers accused in an alleged cover-up of the Laquan McDonald shooting.

Rick Majewski | For the Sun-Times

Three officers and a sergeant accused of lying to cover up the fatal shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald by fellow Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke have been fired from the department.

The Chicago Police Board’s decision comes nearly five years after Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in a police shooting that stoked the city’s racial tensions and widened the divide between communities of color and Chicago police.

The nine-member board voted unanimously Thursday evening to fire Officers Janet Mondragon and Ricardo Viramontes and Sgt. Stephen Franko for making false statements to justify McDonald’s shooting. All but one board member voted to fire Officer Daphne Sebastian based on several violations of department rules, though she was not found to have made false statements.

The firings, which can be appealed through a lawsuit, are the latest fallout from McDonald’s death and likely the final punishment to be handed out in the case.

Three other officers were acquitted by a Cook County judge in January of felony charges that they conspired to protect Van Dyke from punishment. Van Dyke himself was sentenced to a six-year, nine-month prison term after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery.

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Black Lives Matter activists march to Chicago Police Department headquarters Thursday to protest several police-involved shootings.

Rick Majewski | For the Sun-Times

In August 2016, CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson filed charges against the four cops who were fired Thursday, accusing them of either giving or approving knowingly false statements to exaggerate the threat posed by McDonald and have his shooting deemed justified.

Arguments in the Police Board case were made in a three-day, trial-like hearing in April. The decision to punish the four was announced Thursday at the Police Board’s monthly meeting at police headquarters in Bronzeville.

None of the four were charged criminally, though their police powers had been stripped since Johnson’s charges, and they were assigned to desk duty as the Police Board case proceeded.

Outside police headquarters Thursday, about 40 members of the Chicago chapter of Black Lives Matter held a demonstration mostly taking aim at the ruling by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability that declared the fatal November 2016 shooting of Joshua Beal to be justified. Beal was killed by two off-duty Chicago police officers in Mount Greenwood.

BLM also called for the firing of Robert Rialmo, the officer who fatally shot Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier in December 2015. Rialmo’s case is currently pending before the board and a decision as to his future with the CPD will be announced in a few months.

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