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Special Prosecutor in Case of Officers Charged With Cover-Up in Laquan McDonald Shooting Seeks to Remove ‘Pro-Police’ Judge

A chalk body outline re-creates the crime scene where 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by then-Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke. (Max Herman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes, who indicted three Chicago police officers on charges that they covered up the circumstances of the Laquan McDonald shooting, moved to remove the judge in the case on the grounds that she is “prejudiced” against the prosecution.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Holmes offered no further explanation for her request to “substitute” Judge Diane Gordon Cannon.


Holmes asked for a Tuesday hearing on the matter, but the request will automatically be granted because each side in the case is allowed to substitute a judge one time if they claim the judge is prejudiced against their side.

Cannon is a former Cook County prosecutor best known for her 2015 acquittal of then-Chicago Police Cmdr. Glenn Evans, who was charged with shoving his gun down Rickey Williams’ throat and threatening to kill him. Cannon called the evidence of Williams’ DNA on Evans’ gun “of fleeting relevance or significance.”


Cannon has been previously cited by appeals courts for her harsh demeanor and “patent sarcasm” in court against the defense.


The original judge in the case, Mary Margaret Brosnahan, recused herself without explanation, but according to the Tribune, it may be because her husband, Kriston Kato, is a onetime controversial Chicago police detective who was dispatched to the scene of the Laquan McDonald shooting as a representative for the Fraternal Order of Police union.

The three officers—former Detective David March, ex-Officer Joseph Walsh and Officer Thomas Gaffney—have all pleaded not guilty on charges of obstruction of justice, official misconduct and conspiracy for their part in allegedly covering up Officer Jason Van Dyke’s actions in the October 2014 fatal shooting of Laquan.

Van Dyke is fighting first-degree murder charges in a separate court case.

The officers are accused of exaggerating the threat that 17-year-old Laquan posed. Their story was contradicted by dashcam video that showed Van Dyke shooting Laquan in the back 16 times as he walked away from police.


Laquan was black; the officers in question are white.

Both March and Walsh left the Chicago Police Department when the inspector general recommended they be fired. Gaffney, who is still with the department, has been suspended without pay.


Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

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