The police chief of the US
city of Chicago recommends the firing of seven officers accused of making false reports over the deadly cop shooting of a black teenager.
Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s decision was announced on Thursday nearly two years after Officer Jason Van Dyke fired 16 shots at Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old African-American, in October of 2014.
But the video of his killing was kept from the public until November 2015.
The dashboard camera video of the shooting death sparked widespread protests and revealed an entrenched “code of silence” among officers who had lied about the incident in an effort to cover it up.
Protesters had called for the resignation of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, saying he was complicit in the cover-up of the murder of an African American teenager.
The public outrage over the incident led to a federal civil rights probe of the city’s police department. And Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder and is awaiting trial. Ten other officers were accused of covering up his crime.
Johnson investigation led to a conclusion that seven of those officers should be fired after documents, videos, and other evidence pertaining to the case were reviewed, his office said.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement the police officers’ statements related to the shooting violate a rule that prohibits “making a false report, written or oral.”
“The officers have been relieved of their police powers,” it added.
Protesters block an intersection on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, calling for the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015, in Chicago. (AFP photo)
Chicago Mayor Emanuel released a statement in which he backed Johnson’s actions.
“As the city takes these important steps to hold individuals accountable, we must also recommit ourselves to partnering together to rebuild trust between our police department and our residents,” the mayor said.
Prosecutors had decided to charge Van Dyke because he wasn’t facing an immediate threat from McDonald, and because he continued to fire at the teen as he lay on the ground after being shot.
The case marks the first time a Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder for an on-duty killing in almost 36 years.
Fatal shootings and other forms of violence by the US police against people of color have sparked protests across the US in recent years.