Prosecution Rests In Chicago Police Cover-Up Trial
The prosecution rested its case Tuesday in the conspiracy trial of one current and two former Chicago Police officers accused of lying about the night Jason Van Dyke fatally shot Laquan McDonald.
Prosecutors wrapped up their case against Officer Thomas Gaffney, former Officer Joseph Walsh, and former Detective David March by presenting emails between unindicted police officials that prosecutors say show the defendants were part of a larger cover-up in the Chicago Police department.
The three officers are charged with obstruction of justice, official misconduct and conspiracy.
In one email entered into evidence by prosecutors, Sgt. Daniel Gallagher wrote to Lt. Anthony Wojcik that McDonald was advancing and officers were retreating, a narrative of the shooting that is contradicted by a dashcam video.
Gallagher wrote that Van Dyke “did exactly what he was trained to do. We should be applauding him, not second guessing him.”
After prosecutors rested their case, defense attorneys asked the judge to acquit, saying the prosecutors had failed to prove their case. It’s standard to make such a request, called a directed finding, but it’s rarely successful.
James McKay, a lawyer for March, said the prosecution's case “stinks.” He argued that it was shameful that his client was on trial accused of covering up the shooting when he had worked to save evidence, including the infamous dashcam video of the shooting which is the basis for much of the prosecution’s case.
Special Prosecutor Ron Safer told the judge the essence of the case is the identical reports that are false beyond any reasonable doubt.
“When police distort truth in order to protect one of their own the system fails. When they lie on police reports, the system fails. When they mislead in police reports, the system fails,” said Safer.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 prez Kevin Graham is among a half-dozen supporters of the defendants who watched arguments about motion for directed findings—acquittals before the defense presents evidence. Now the judge is back from recess. Decision?— Chip Mitchell (@ChipMitchell1) December 5, 2018
After about two-and-a-half hours of arguments, Judge Domenica Stephenson denied the officers’ requests to find them not guilty. This means the trial will continue.
The fifth day of the trial is scheduled to start Thursday morning, when the defense will have a chance to begin calling witnesses.
WBEZ criminal justice reporter Patrick Smith also contributed to this report. Follow him @pksmid.