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4 Chicago Police Officers Fired For 'Covering Up' 2014 Fatal Shooting


The review panel in Chicago that decides on serious police discipline cases has fired four officers accused of covering up for Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke is the officer who is now in prison for shooting 16 rounds into a teenager named Laquan McDonald almost five years ago.

Chip Mitchell of member station WBEZ has the story.

CHIP MITCHELL, BYLINE: Officers Janet Mondragon, Daphne Sebastian and Ricardo Viramontes were on the scene during the shooting. In their reports, they depicted black teenager Laquan McDonald as the aggressor and white officer Jason Van Dyke as the victim.

That's according to a 55-page Chicago Police Board finding prepared for Thursday night's meeting. The finding says the officers' reports were, quote, "squarely contradicted by reality."

Sergeant Stephen Franko arrived on the scene just after the shooting. He signed off on reports that the teenager battered and injured Van Dyke - reports disproved by a police dashcam video that the sergeant had seen.


GHIAN FOREMAN: Related to the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, the board will now take final action on these cases.

MITCHELL: Police Board President Ghian Foreman led the meeting.


FOREMAN: Is there a motion to find Sergeant Stephen Franko guilty of violating Rules 2, 3, 6, 11 and 14 and to discharge him from the Chicago Police Department?



MITCHELL: After a unanimous show of hands, the motion passed. And it went about the same for the other three officers. The dismissals continued legal battles that have roiled Chicago since Van Dyke shot McDonald in 2014. First, the teen's family got a $5 million settlement, as then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel ran for reelection and his administration kept the video hidden.

Once the judge ordered the city to release the video, protests led to a year-long federal investigation that found widespread constitutional abuses by the police and a lack of accountability. That led to a court-enforceable police reform agreement, known as a consent decree.

This January, Van Dyke went to prison for second-degree murder in the shooting. In a separate criminal case, three officers were found not guilty of engaging in a cover-up for him. Now, these four firings and more rancor.


PATRICK MURRAY: Your job is not to fall to the pressure of the media or the radical police haters.

MITCHELL: Patrick Murray responded to the police board. He's a vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge that represents rank-and-file Chicago officers.


MURRAY: It is obvious that this police board has outserved its usefulness. The FOP has made it our top priority that this board be dissolved.

MITCHELL: But on Chicago's West Side, where Laquan McDonald grew up, Ira Acree says the firings provide some hope. Acree is a church pastor and civil rights activist.

IRA ACREE: This is not exactly how we wanted this to end. These guys should be headed to prison for collaborating to cover up a murder. But in a flawed judicial system and in a city where the police department has been accused of systemic racism for several years, this is a small victory.

MITCHELL: A victory, he says, for police-community relations.

For NPR News, I'm Chip Mitchell in Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Chip Mitchell