Current CPD Detective Labeled ‘Co-Conspirator’ In Cover-Up Trial | WBEZ
Skip to main content

WBEZ News

Current CPD Detective Labeled ‘Co-Conspirator’ In Cover-Up Trial

Updated Dec. 5 at 4:45 p.m.

Prosecutors in the trial of three Chicago police officers charged with conspiring to cover up for Jason Van Dyke are naming an alleged “co-conspirator” who remains on duty in the city’s police  department.

Detective Thomas J. McDonagh was among police officials who attempted to “conceal the true facts” about Van Dyke’s 2014 killing of Laquan McDonald, Special Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes’ team alleged in a court filing last June, identifying McDonagh only as “Detective Individual I” in that document but naming him Tuesday afternoon in the trial.

Prosecutors presented emails indicating McDonagh flew to Washington D.C. in May 2015 and met with Ronald Hosko, president of a private group, the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.

McDonagh described providing Hosko police information on the shooting — including the dashcam video that would become infamous more than six months later, when the city released it to the public.

Two days after meeting with Hosko, McDonagh emailed officials in the police department’s Detectives Bureau. The officials, Sgt. Daniel Gallagher and Lt. Anthony Wojcik, had overseen CPD’s investigation of the shooting.

In the email, McDonagh told Gallagher and Wojcik about his meeting with Hosko and asked them to gather more information for Hosko’s group to work on Van Dyke’s defense. McDonagh wrote that the group was “very excited about” the case: “I think they will help (Van Dyke) immensely."

At the trial Tuesday, CPD information services director Steve Maris testified that police-department rules bar sharing information from within the department to an outside person or agency for a non-CPD reason.

Prosecutors say the emails were part of an effort to “misrepresent, conceal, and hide the activities of the conspiracy and to avoid detection.”

McDonagh, 50, works at the department’s Area North detective office for a salary the city lists at $100,980. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Around the time Van Dyke shot and killed McDonald on Oct. 20, 2014, McDonagh was working with CPD permission for Van Dyke’s union, the Fraternal Order of Police.

CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, pointing to gag orders in the conspiracy trial and Van Dyke’s murder case, declined to comment whether it was appropriate for McDonagh to ask the sergeant and lieutenant to help with Van Dyke’s defense.

Once the criminal proceedings are finished, Guglielmi said, CPD’s Bureau of Internal Affairs will review the case to see whether department members violated department rules.

Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson, over defense objections, ruled on Tuesday afternoon that she would allow some email exchanges between CPD officials to be part of the trial record.
Defense attorneys last week argued that prosecutors had failed to prove the existence of any conspiracy and, therefore, the email messages by McDonagh and other police officials were inadmissible hearsay.

Officer Thomas Gaffney, 45, former Officer Joseph Walsh, 49, and former Detective David March, 60, face charges of obstruction of justice, official misconduct, and conspiracy to commit those offenses.

Van Dyke awaits sentencing after his October conviction of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.

Chip Mitchell reports out of WBEZ’s West Side studio about policing. Follow him at @ChipMitchell1.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.

CLOSE X