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3 Officers, 1 Sgt. Fired Over ‘Demonstrable and Known Falsehoods’ in Laquan McDonald Case


[WARNING: Video is disturbing.]

Three Chicago police officers and a sergeant were fired Thursday for how they handled the fallout of former officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014. Van Dyke was convicted last year of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. He is currently behind bars.

The report from the Police Board of the City of Chicago said the fired officers’ conduct was “antithetical to that expected and required of a sworn law enforcement officer, who at all times has a duty to act with honesty and integrity and to accurately and completely report their observations.”

The report said Sgt. Stephen Franko approved reports containing “several demonstrable and known falsehoods,” like McDonald injuring Van Dyke. He also failed to make sure the officers he supervised used the audio components of their in-car video systems, the board wrote.

Officer Ricardo Viramontes reported that McDonald kept moving after getting shot and tried to get off the ground, knife in hand, according to the finding. Video of the incident, however, shows the opposite. Board members determined his statements were “demonstrably and willfully” false, made to fabricate justification of Van Dyke’s decision to shoot McDonald 16 times.

Officer Janet Mondragon had claimed that she was following McDonald in her squad vehicle at close range, but insisted she was putting her car transmission into park, so she didn’t see the shooting itself, only heard it. Board members didn’t buy that version of events. Video showed the shooting lasted 15 seconds, and her car was still moving in the first four seconds, they wrote.

Officer Daphne Sebastian had said that McDonald had ignored orders to drop the knife, and that he kept approaching them while waving the knife. She also claimed that the 17-year-old was still moving on the ground. Per the report:

She did not, however, offer a precise statement as to the timing of these events, nor did she mention the critical fact that Mr. McDonald was walking away from the officers at the time he was shot.

[Screengrab via Chicago Police Department]

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