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Demonstrators protest as they celebrate the verdict in the murder trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke along Michigan Ave., Oct. 5, 2018 in Chicago. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has released an inspector general's report that found that officers took part in a massive cover-up after the 2014 police shooting of Laquan McDonald, an unarmed black teenager.

Why it matters: "The documents offer an even closer look into the shooting and subsequent investigations that have dominated Chicago’s consciousness for nearly five years," the Chicago Sun-Times writes. The disclosures affirm the degree to which the police made false statements about the events on the night of the shooting, highlighting another instance of police using excessive and fatal force against African Americans.

Background:

  • On Oct. 20, 2014, Chicago police officers responded to reports of someone breaking into vehicles. Seconds after arriving at the scene, Officer Jason Van Dyke shot 17-year-old McDonald 16 times. Initial reports indicate that Van Dyke said McDonald lunged at him with a knife, but dashcam footage, released in 2015 after a court order, contradicts that narrative.
  • Van Dyke was indicted in December 2015. He was sentenced to 6 years and 9 months in October 2018 after being found guilty of second-degree murder. Three other officers who were tried for misconduct, obstruction of justice and conspiracy were acquitted.
  • Chicago settled with McDonald's family for $5 million in 2015.
  • Four officers, including Sgt. Stephen Franko who supervised officers handling the case, were fired earlier this summer.

What they found: Inspector general Joseph Ferguson recommended 16 officers be disciplined for their roles in covering for Van Dyke. The documents released include officer interviews, statements and summaries from Ferguson's 2016 report.

  • “Van Dyke’s false reports, false statements, and material omissions all served to exaggerate the threat McDonald posed,” the reports released by the Office of the Inspector General say.
  • The IG says officers lied when they claimed to have heard Van Dyke tell McDonald to drop his weapon. They would not have been able to hear such a warning from where they were standing.
    • The report also recommended the removal of Lt. Anthony Wojcik, who retired from the department in 2016, alleging he destroyed evidence and reports with officers' notes from witness statements.
    • Wojcik and a sergeant, Daniel Gallagher, also helped the lead detective on the case to develop false conclusions to support Van Dyke's narrative, the IG says.
    • Franko and 2 other supervisors approved Van Dyke's and other officers' description of events after the shooting, despite knowing the accounts were false, the report concludes.
  • Current CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who was a senior member of the department at the time of the shooting, reportedly saw the video of the incident before it was publicly released. At a news conference last week, Johnson said, "So to be clear, I never thought and I never said the shooting of Laquan McDonald was justified," per TV station Chicago 5.

Where it stands: The report recommended that 12 officers be dismissed for their part in the cover-up, including Wojcik, who retired before the report was finished. It also recommended disciplinary measures for 4 other officers for failing to ensure their dashcams recorded the events, as CPD rules stipulate.

What they're saying:

"The Fraternal Order of Police has articulated in several instances our strongly-held belief that the Inspector General’s office, particularly under Joe Ferguson, is often little more than a political witch hunt of our members, none more so than the manner by which his office generated criminal indictments of the three officers in connection with the Laquan McDonald shooting. Those officers, tried by special prosecutor Patricia Holmes, were acquitted."
— Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police, per the Sun-Times

What's next: Three other officers and a sergeant, who were fired earlier this year for their role in the cover-up, have filed lawsuits fighting their terminations, the Sun-Times reports.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter the U.S. beginning in November.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as President Biden seeks commitments from countries to donate vaccines to the global COVAX initiative. He is expected to host a COVID summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week, and many of the countries attending have expressed frustration with the travel ban.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Gen Z breaks into VC

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When Meagan Loyst joined VC firm Lerer Hippeau, less than two years out of Boston College, she was still living with her parents. She had virtually no online brand presence, and the pandemic made it impossible to build a professional network via in-person meetings.

Why it matters: Loyst wasn't alone. Venture firms have accelerated hiring in line with record deal activity, often seeking younger investors who can spot trends that fly below the radar (or intrinsic understanding) of older partners.

White House aims to protect workers from extreme heat

Two pear pickers in Hood River, Ore. on Aug. 13. Photo: Michael Hanson/AFP via Getty Images

The White House announced a slew of actions Monday, including the start of a rule-making process at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to protect American workers from extreme heat.

Driving the news: The U.S. just had its hottest summer on record, with triple-digit-temperatures killing hundreds in the Pacific Northwest and exposing outdoor workers to dangerous conditions.