|Laquan McDonald, on a Chicago street, seconds before|
cops shot him 16 times.
We know that from following the Laquan McDonald shooting in Chicago. And we suspect it because of the wrongful eviction that left my wife with a broken arm, courtesy of a Greene County sheriff's deputy in Springfield, Missouri, plus the actions of Alabama deputies that led to my unlawful five-month incarceration in 2013-14.
We will take a closer look at the law-enforcement lies emanating from our Missouri and Alabama experiences in upcoming posts. Those posts specifically will focus on the words and actions of Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott in Missouri and deputies Mike DeHart and Chris Blevins in Alabama.
But first, let's look at the outrageous nature of police dishonesty in the McDonald case. Thanks to video produced because of a free-lance journalist's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, we know cops lied when they claimed McDonald was coming toward them before Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shot the 17-year-old--firing 16 shots, many of them at a downward trajectory, indicating McDonald was on the ground as Van Dyke kept shooting. In fact, the video shows, McDonald was walking away from officers.
But a recent Chicago Tribune story, about hundreds of pages of documents the city finally released in the McDonald case, shows that cops can lie with reckless impunity when they feel backed into a corner. Consider this from the Tribune article about statements from cops on the scene of the McDonald shooting:
As is the case with all police shootings, supervisors and union officials came to the scene. Just hours later, the reports suggest the direction the investigation was headed when the department made a preliminary finding that Van Dyke was justified in shooting McDonald.
One report states that three officers were "battered" by McDonald. Another lists Van Dyke as having been injured.
"Based upon information available at the time of this report it is the preliminary determination of the undersigned that Officer Van Dyke fired his weapon in compliance with Department policy. Officer Van Dyke fired his weapon in fear of his life when the offender while armed with a knife continued to approach and refused all verbal direction," Deputy Chief David McNaughton wrote in a report.
Does the video show that McDonald battered three officers, that Van Dyke was injured, and that McDonald continued to approach officers with a knife? Not even close. But the lunacy from officer reports does not end there. In December 2014, based on the reports, the department officially classified the McDonald shooting as a "justifiable homicide." From the Tribune article:
"McDonald committed aggravated assault against the three officers, finally forcing Officer Van Dyke, in defense of his life, to shoot and kill McDonald," according to a report of that determination.
Again and again in reports, Van Dyke's account is supported by the other officers at the scene, each one describing the teen as a threat to the veteran cop. Four officers claimed that McDonald advanced toward Van Dyke, even though the video shows him walking away. Two others said he turned or raised an arm toward him.
Aggravated assault? Van Dyke was in defense of his life? The video shows none of that.
|X-ray of Carol Shuler's arm, shattered|
by a Missouri deputy
The report provides a glimpse at the kind of disdain some cops have for the public they supposedly are protecting. From the Tribune:
How police viewed the shooting, though, was clear. In the report that closed the investigation, filed in March, a detective offered this terse assessment.
"Criminal attacked officer," the report says, "that officer killed criminal."
Never mind that the video shows McDonald did not attack anyone, that he was walking away when Van Dyke shot him 16 times.
Meanwhile, the cops who wrote these bogus reports might wind up paying a high price, according to the Tribune:
With the video of the shooting as a backdrop, the reports — the first detailed accounts from the officers at the scene — offer a way to examine what Van Dyke and his colleagues say happened. Because they diverge so dramatically from the video, they suggest one possible avenue for additional investigation.
Federal officials also are investigating the shooting. A federal grand jury investigation has involved more than 80 witnesses and branched into possible obstruction of justice by the officers at the scene, sources told the Tribune. In particular, the sources said, federal prosecutors are investigating the officers who made statements as well as the officers who prepared the reports of the statements.