Today, the day before another Cook County Judge is scheduled to sentence Jason Van Dyke for murdering Laquan McDonald, Judge Domenica Stephenson, in a lengthy written decision, and true to her reputation as a pro-police judge, acquitted all three Chicago police officers who were on trial for covering up for Van Dyke.
The History of the Case
When Police Officer Jason Van Dyke let loose a hail of gunfire on 17-year-old McDonald, murdering him in October of 2014, the police code of silence quickly sprang into action. Van Dyke’s partner, officers on the scene, investigating detectives, and their superior officers all collaborated to manufacture, record and promote a false story: that Van Dyke shot McDonald in an act of justified self-defense.
Meanwhile, a video that revealed the lie behind the police’s cover story was kept secret by high-ranking city and county officials, including then Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, for more than a year — until it was released by a Cook County judge in November 2015 in the wake of the publication of an autopsy report that showed that McDonald had been shot 16 times.
The reaction was seismic: Outraged people took to the streets, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired, Mayor Rahm Emanuel publicly admitted that there was a police code of silence and Alvarez was defeated at the polls. Later, the Mayor’s Police Accountability Review Commission and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division each issued scathing condemnations of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) racist policies and practices.
To top things off, Emmanuel recently announced he will not seek another term.
Community activists and a group of lawyers (myself included) petitioned for an independent African American special prosecutor to be appointed, not only to prosecute Van Dyke, but also to investigate and seek indictments of those who conspired to cover up Van Dyke’s murderous…