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Saturday May 25th, 2019 7:25PM

The Latest: Judge: Laquan McDonald still a threat on ground

By The Associated Press
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CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the trial of three Chicago police officers accused of trying to cover up the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

The judge who cleared three Chicago officers of trying to cover up the 2014 fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald appears to have accepted an argument that jurors who convicted the officer who fired the shots didn't.

Judge Domenica Stephenson repeatedly said in her ruling Thursday that McDonald continued moving and holding a knife after being knocked to the ground by Officer Jason Van Dyke's initial shots, suggesting he could have still been seen as a threat.

The jury that convicted Van Dyke of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in October didn't see it that way and the police dashcam video that was crucial to convicting Van Dyke appears to show that McDonald's movements while lying on the street were largely caused by Van Dyke continuing to shoot him.

Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times. He is due to be sentenced Friday by a different judge.

___

3:15 p.m.

Activists are calling for demonstrators to show up in numbers for the sentencing of the Chicago police officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald.

Eric Russell of the group Tree of Life Justice said Thursday after a judge acquitted three other officers of trying to cover up the 2014 shooting that "we will be down here tomorrow by the hundreds and we will cry out for justice for Laquan."

A jury in October convicted Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot McDonald, of second-degree murder and aggravated battery. He is due to be sentenced Friday by a different judge.

Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson expressed skepticism during Thursday's hearing that there was any attempt by officers Joseph Walsh, Thomas Gaffney and David March to cover up the shooting, much less proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

___

3 p.m.

A relative of Laquan McDonald has expressed dismay that a judge acquitted three Chicago officers of trying to cover up the 2014 fatal police shooting of the black teenager.

The Rev. Marvin Hunter, who is McDonald's great uncle, said after the hearing Thursday that "the verdict is that if you are a police officer, you can lie, cheat and steal."

Hunter added that "to say that these men are not guilty is to say that Jason Van Dyke is not guilty."

Van Dyke is the only officer who opened fire on McDonald, hitting him 16 times, including after the teen was on the ground and barely moving. Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in October and is due to be sentenced by a different judge Friday.

Judge Domenica Stephenson expressed skepticism during Thursday's hearing that there was any attempt to cover up the shooting by officers Joseph Walsh, Thomas Gaffney and David March.

___

2:40 p.m.

The judge who acquitted three Chicago officers of trying to cover up the 2014 police shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald explained that the officers at the scene had different vantage points than the dashcam video that was key to convicting the officer who fired the shots.

Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson expressed skepticism during Thursday's hearing that there was any attempt by officers Joseph Walsh, Thomas Gaffney and David March to cover up the shooting, much less proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Police officers in the courtroom gallery clapped a little when Stephenson was done delivering her verdict.

Prosecutors allege that the three officers lied in their reports to try to protect Officer Jason Van Dyke, who fired all 16 shots that struck McDonald.

Van Dyke was convicted in October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each shot — and is due to be sentenced by a different judge on Friday.

___

2:20 p.m.

A judge has acquitted three Chicago police officers of trying to cover up the 2014 shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald to protect another officer who pulled the trigger.

Judge Domenica Stephenson said Thursday that after considering all of the evidence, including police dashcam video of the killing, she did not find that officer Thomas Gaffney, Joseph Walsh and David March conspired to cover up the shooting.

The prosecution's case centered on crucial discrepancies between what was on the dashcam video and what the officers wrote in their reports, contending that the reports' remarkable uniformity was evidence that the officers were trying to protect Van Dyke from criminal prosecution.

But the judge rejected that argument.

The officer who shot McDonald 16 times, Jason Van Dyke, was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in October and is due to be sentenced Friday.

___

12:05 a.m.

A judge is set to announce a verdict for three Chicago police officers accused of lying in their reports to protect the officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald.

Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson has scheduled a hearing Thursday afternoon to announce her decision in the cover-up trial of David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney. They are charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that the reports written by the three about the October 2014 shooting included some of the same lies they say were designed to protect Officer Jason Van Dyke.

Defense attorneys dismissed any suggestion that the officers created a cover story to help Van Dyke.

Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder in October. He's scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

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