Lawyers Say Police Threatened Witnesses, Faked Statements in Teen's Shooting

'Outright lies to cover up [the] illegal shooting' of Laquan McDonald
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2016 5:18 PM CST
Lawyers Say Police Threatened Witnesses, Faked Statements in Teen's Shooting
Dashcam video provided by the Chicago Police Department shows Laquan McDonald walking down the street moments before being shot by officer Jason Van Dyke 16 times.   (Chicago Police Department via AP, File)

Attorneys for the family of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot by a Chicago police officer in 2014, say police threatened at least three witnesses and tried to get them to change their stories to match the official account, CNN reports. They also allege police faked accounts when witnesses refused to change their stories. "It's not just the officers on the street," attorney Jeffrey Neslund tells CNN. "It's a lieutenant, a sergeant, and detectives." Dashcam video of the shooting shows McDonald, who is black, holding a knife and walking away from officers when he is shot 16 times. Officer James Van Dyke, who is white, has been charged with murder in the teen's death. Five officers at the scene have said McDonald came at them.

Now, lawyers for McDonald's family say police are guilty of "outright lies to cover up an illegal shooting, corroborated by other officers," CNN reports. One witness to the shooting says she was "held against her will" for six hours by officers, who repeatedly told her that her account didn't match the video of the shooting, which they refused to show her, according to UPI. USA Today reports she was only released at 4am after demanding a lawyer. According to CNN, she says one officer said "he was going to get me." Another witness says he told police what he saw was "like an execution." His official witness statement states he didn't see the shooting. A father and son who witnessed the shooting say they were told to leave the scene "or be arrested." The US Justice Department is investigating. (Read more Chicago stories.)

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