3 Chicago Officers Charged With Conspiracy in Laquan McDonald Case

The officers, who are scheduled for arraignments next month, were not taken into custody, and representatives for them could not be reached. Leaders of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing rank-and-file officers, declined to comment, saying they had not reviewed the indictment. Eddie Johnson, who was named police superintendent in the aftermath of the McDonald case, and has said the department had cooperated with prosecutors, said he remained committed to setting new policies “to prevent an incident like this from happening again.”

In late 2015, Officer Van Dyke was charged with murder in the shooting on the same day that city officials released long-awaited dashboard camera video of the episode to comply with a court order. No trial date has been set for Officer Van Dyke, who has pleaded not guilty to murder and said he feared for his life when he fired the shots. He is on unpaid suspension while awaiting trial.

The video set off night after night of demonstrations across Chicago and led to the removal of the city’s police superintendent. It also prompted a broad investigation by the Justice Department into the Chicago Police Department, its treatment of black residents and what some in Chicago have long described as a “code of silence” between officers.

On the evening of the shooting, numerous police officers had responded to a 911 call of a man with a knife trying to break into vehicles. Among half a dozen officers who were following Mr. McDonald, either on foot or in squad cars, Officer Van Dyke was the only one to fire his gun.

But other officers — including the three charged on Tuesday — backed up Officer Van Dyke’s account that Mr. McDonald had moved menacingly toward him with a knife and swung the weapon. The dashboard video contradicted those accounts, and showed Mr. McDonald, who was clutching a knife, seeming to veer away from the police when Officer Van Dyke began firing his weapon. The shooting continued as Mr. McDonald lay crumpled on the street.

Charged are Detective David March, a police veteran of more than 30 years, who was assigned to investigate the shooting immediately after it occurred and ultimately deemed it justified; Patrol Officer Joseph Walsh, who had spent about 20 years as an officer and was Officer Van Dyke’s partner on the night of the shooting; and Thomas Gaffney, also a patrol officer with approximately two decades of experience on the force, who was also at the scene of the shooting.

Mr. March and Mr. Walsh are no longer Chicago police employees, according to a department spokesman, who did not specify how or when they left the force. Officer Gaffney was suspended after being charged with a felony. If convicted on all counts, the officers could each face more than 10 years in prison.

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