Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer charged with murder in the 2014 fatal shooting of a black teenager, may have also played a role in an alleged cover-up of another fatal police shooting a decade ago, court records in an open civil lawsuit against the city revealed. Van Dyke acknowledged in a deposition that he copied the work of fellow officers at the scene of the 2005 shooting of Emmanuel Lopez, making his official report match theirs without conducting his own witness interviews, the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday.
Van Dyke’s role in the Lopez case had been seen as relatively minor, but it is being watched closely given the striking similarities to the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald. The Lopez family’s lawsuit, which goes to trial in February, alleges that five Chicago police shot the 23-year-old Hispanic janitor 16 times without cause and then made up a story that the man tried to run over an officer with his car, according to the Tribune.
The admission of report tampering in the 2008 shooting case came to light as Van Dyke was accused of murder in the October 2014 shooting of McDonald, 17, who was shot 16 times while he walked along a Chicago street holding a small knife. Van Dyke fired the shots, discharging most of them after McDonald had collapsed to the ground.
The Chicago Police Department at first claimed that McDonald had threatened officers with the knife and city officials, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, fought against the release of police squad car video of the shooting. A judge ordered the video release last week, putting Chicago in the national spotlight over alleged police misconduct against people of color.
In response to allegations that he and police officials sought to cover up the shooting for political gain, Emanuel announced Tuesday the firing of police superintendent Garry McCarthy and the creation of a task force on police oversight.