LEOs sue over firings related to Chicago OIS

The lawsuit alleges the police board's decision was illegal


Jeremy Gorner
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Four Chicago cops fired in July over allegations they helped cover up the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald have filed separate lawsuits challenging the decision.

The lawsuits by one sergeant and three patrol officers allege that the Police Board decision to fire them was unlawful. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who recommended their firing, was named as a defendant as well.

Officers present during the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, captured on CPD dash cam, were fired in July over allegations they were part of a cover-up. (Photo/Chicago Police Department)
Officers present during the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, captured on CPD dash cam, were fired in July over allegations they were part of a cover-up. (Photo/Chicago Police Department)

The board’s 55-page decision concluded that Officers Ricardo Viramontes, Janet Mondragon and Daphne Sebastian exaggerated the threat posed by 17-year-old McDonald in order to justify the actions of Officer Jason Van Dyke in shooting the teen 16 times.

The board fired Sgt. Stephen Franko for approving their falsified police reports on the incident.

The lawsuits did not give specifics about why they considered the Police Board’s unanimous decision legally flawed, though Franko’s lawyers said the sergeant was only required to review the reports for “legibility and completeness,” not to investigate the shooting.

Lawyers for Franko, Viramontes and Mondragon declined to comment Wednesday on their lawsuits, while Sebastian’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.

The Police Board’s decision in July likely marked the final punishment to be meted out following two historic criminal trials that saw Van Dyke become the first Chicago police officer in half a century to be convicted of an on-duty murder and a Cook County judge clear three other officers — including Van Dyke’s partner — of criminal conspiracy charges in a controversial ruling in January.

 The video contradicted officers’ accounts that McDonald had threatened Van Dyke with a knife and instead showed the teen, high on PCP, walking away from officers on a Southwest Side street as he refused commands to drop the knife.

McDonald’s shooting roiled the city after a Daley Center judge ordered the video's release in November 2015, more than a year after the teen’s death. The U.S. Department of Justice later issued a scathing report about Police Department inadequacies, paving the way for a federal consent decree mandating a series of reforms that will be overseen by a federal judge.

Meanwhile, a disciplinary investigation by city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s office recommended that 11 officers in all — including Van Dyke, now serving a 6¾-year sentence in federal prison — be fired. But several of them — including the two highest-ranking, Deputy Chief David McNaughton and Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy — left the department before the superintendent could move to discipline them.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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