Our Pledge To You


3 cops charged in Laquan McDonald cover-up set for trial in July

Thomas Gaffney, Joseph Walsh

Chicago Police Officers Thomas Gaffney (center) and Joseph Walsh (right) leave the Leighton Criminal Courthouse last year after pleading not guilty for allegedly trying to cover up what happened the night Laquan McDonald was shot to death. | Andy Grimm/Sun-Times

Three Chicago Police officers charged with attempting to cover up misconduct by the fellow officer who shot Laquan McDonald will go to trial in July.

At a hearing Thursday, lawyers for officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney and detective David March said they would each opt for bench trials in front of Judge Domenica Stephenson, starting July 10.

The three were charged a year ago with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct.

Asked outside the courtroom whether the trial would actually start as scheduled, James McKay, the lawyer for March, replied: “I hope so. We’re ready.”

Jason Van Dyke, the CPD officer charged in a separate case with shooting McDonald 16 timse in 2014, still has no trial date set. Van Dyke faces charges of first-degree murder and aggravated assault for the shooting. Judge Vincent Gaughan has pushed lawyers in the Van Dyke case, which was charged in late 2015, to be ready for trial this summer.

Special Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes accused the three officers of filing false accounts of the October 2014 shooting to protect Van Dyke from being accused of any wrongdoing. She also said the three failed to interview witnesses who might have contradicted their faulty version of events.

March, 58, the lead detective, cleared Van Dyke of wrongdoing, despite dashcam video that appears to show McDonald walking away from Van Dyke when he opened fire and shot the teen.

The 11-page indictment lays out a conspiracy by March, Walsh, 48, who was Van Dyke’s partner at the time, and Thomas Gaffney, 43, an officer who was one of the first to encounter McDonald the night of October 21, 2014. The indictment refers to Van Dyke as “Individual A,” and also includes other officers, identified as unidentified individuals “B” through “G.” Holmes last year closed out her investigation without charging additional officers.

Gaffney — who had been on desk duty and was the only one of the three officers charged who had not retired or resigned — was suspended after the charges were announced.