Judges have upheld the firings of two Chicago police officers who lost their jobs after they were accused of helping cover up the 2014 fatal shooting of Black teenager Laquan McDonald by a fellow officer.
The Chicago Tribune reports that records show the two Cook County judges in separate November rulings affirmed the Chicago Police Board's decisions to fire Sgt. Stephen Franko and Officer Daphne Sebastian.
The officers who were fired in the aftermath of the 2015 release of a video that showed the-Officer Jason Van Dyke shoot the 17-year-old McDonald 16 times. After the video was released, Van Dyke was charged with murder. He was found guilty by a jury in 2018 of second-degree murder an aggravated battery and sentenced to nearly seven years in state prison.
Franko was fired by the police board, in large part because he approved police officers' reports that were inconsistent with what could be seen on the now famous dashcam video. Sebastian was terminated after the board determined that she misled investigators by failing to include key facts in her statements. But the board also determined that her statements were not “willfully false.”
The police board fired the officers and two others after determining they exaggerated the threat posed by McDonald in order to justify Van Dyke's actions, and determined that that they had approved or filed false or misleading police reports. The firings of those other officers have not been ruled upon by judges.
Three other officers, including Van Dyke's partner, were arrested on criminal conspiracy charges, but a judge later dismissed the charges against all of them.
According to the Tribune, Franko could not be reached for comment and Sebastian declined to comment on her case.