City Attends Hearing in Police Reform Lawsuit

7/12/2017, noon | Updated on 7/12/2017, noon
“It’s the right thing to do because our community has been affected the most by the injustice that has been ...
17-year-old Laquan McDonald is shot 16 times by Chicago Police Ocer Jason Van Dyke on Oct. 20, 2014 and dies.

City Attends Hearing in Police Reform Lawsuit

By Christopher Shuttlesworth

City attorneys recently filed a motion seeking more time to respond to a lawsuit filed by various community groups, including Black Lives Matter.

In an Invisible Institute document, Attorney Craig Futterman said it appears the city is hiring multiple outside law firms in preparation for opposing the lawsuit. The July 6th court hearing was scheduled for the city of Chicago to respond to specific deadlines for the lawsuit.

City lawyers said “they would need until Aug. 21 to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit – and until Oct. 4 to file responses to the complaint,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The coalition of community groups, including Black Lives Matter, recently filed the 100-page lawsuit against the City of Chicago seeking a federal court consent decree to oversee police reform.

The federal consent decree request comes after the Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed in an Investigative Report on Jan. 13, 2017, that the Chicago Police Department engaged in a pattern of excessive force, including deadly force, against African American and Latino men, which is a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, according to the Department of Justice. During the same time that the U.S. Justice Department released its report, the city began negotiating a consent decree.

The dashcam video that displayed 17-year old Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke touched off a firestorm of controversy involving alleged police misconduct in Chicago and the need for police reform.

Van Dyke was charged with first degree murder on November 24, 2015. On December 16, 2015, Van Dyke was indicted on six counts of first degree murder and one count of official conduct as reported in the Chicago Tribune.

Three Chicago police officers were recently indicted on June 27, 2017, and charged with adhering to a “code of silence” following the 2014 shooting death of Laquan McDonald, according to the Invisible Institute. Special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes announced the indictment of Detective David March and Officers Thomas Gaffney and Joseph Walsh, and charged them with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct. Their scheduled arraignment was on July 10.

Walsh was the partner of Officer Jason Van Dyke, now facing murder charges in the incident. Gaffney was one of the first officers to respond to a call about McDonald, and March conducted the initial investigation into the shooting. Walsh resigned and March retired after an investigation by the city inspector general recommended they be fired. Gaffney was placed on unpaid leave following the indictment.

Holmes charged the three coordinated efforts with Van Dyke and others to file false reports and failed to interview witnesses to the shooting.

“This indictment makes clear that it is unacceptable to obey an unofficial code of silence,” Holmes said in a press conference.

Alderman Anthony Beale of the ninth Ward said everyone knows that there is a lack of trust among Chicago citizens and the Chicago Police Department.

He explained that in order to bring back trust between the police and the African American community, the consent decree must be put into effect.