A lawyer for the Chicago police officer facing murder charges in Laquan McDonald’s death is trying to link police Supt. Eddie Johnson to CPD bosses who backed reports that the shooting complied with department policy.
During a hearing in the case Friday, officer Jason Van Dyke’s attorney referred to a meeting in which police brass watched a dashcam video of the 2014 shooting. The meeting took place more than a year before a judge ordered the city to release the video.
“All the top members of the police department determined, days after this incident, that the shooting and the preparation of the reports were justified — including the current superintendent, Eddie Johnson,” Dan Herbert, the attorney, said.
At the time, Johnson was a deputy chief in the patrol bureau.
A department statement issued Friday says Johnson “was never in a position to determine whether the shooting was justified.”
Johnson “stated that he never said at any time that the shooting was justified or not,” according to the statement.
Johnson, promoted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to superintendent last year, recommended in August that the Police Board fire Van Dyke and four other officers involved in the incident.
Judge Vincent Gaughan, who is overseeing the murder case, last month ordered a suspension of those administrative proceedings pending Van Dyke’s trial.
Herbert on Friday filed a second motion to toss out the murder charges. At the hearing, he described the motion to Gaughan, saying Cook County prosecutors “deceived” and “misinformed” the case’s grand jury “in a rush to sacrifice Jason Van Dyke to the angry mob that was out there.”
Herbert’s first motion to dismiss the case, filed last month, alleges that the prosecutors presented to the grand jury some statements that officers were compelled to give by their superiors.
Gaughan has not ruled on either motion.
Friday’s hearing continued almost 14 months of legal wrangling and evidence discovery since a grand jury indicted Van Dyke on six counts of murder and one count of official misconduct.
Last May, then-Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez recused her office from the case after civil-rights advocates claimed she had a conflict of interest — a claim she denied.
Gaughan swore in Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon as special prosecutor in August.
Separately, a special grand jury has issued subpoenas related to an alleged police cover-up after the shooting.