5 Chicago officers face firing over slaying of black teen

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Chicago Police Seek To Fire 5 Officers In Laquan McDonald Shooting

CHICAGO, Aug 30 (Reuters) - The chief of Chicago's police department recommended on Tuesday that five officers be fired over their role in the 2014 shooting death of an black teenager, an incident that heaped national scrutiny on the nation's second largest police force.

Superintendent Eddie Johnson recommended to the Chicago Police Board that officer Jason Van Dyke who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times, be fired, along with another four officers.

The shooting made national headlines and sparked wide protests after the release of a dashboard video more than a year after the incident. The video shows the officer continued to fire after McDonald, 17, had fallen to the ground.

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CHICAGO, IL - UNDATED: In this handout provided by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke poses for a mugshot photo after he was was arrested for the shooting death of an African-American teen in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 after responding to a call of a knife wielding man who had threatened the complainant and was attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. (Photo by Cook County State's Attorney's Office via Getty Images)
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, middle, leaves the Cook County Jail after posting bond on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Chicago. Van Dyke has been locked up since Nov. 24, when prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke leaves the Cook County Jail after posting bond on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Chicago. Van Dyke has been locked up since Nov. 24, when prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke leaves the Cook County Jail after posting bond on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Chicago. Van Dyke has been locked up since Nov. 24, when prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
In this Oct. 20, 2014 frame from dash-cam video provided by the Chicago Police Department, Laquan McDonald, right, walks down the street moments before being shot by officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. (Chicago Police Department via AP)
In this Oct. 20, 2014 frame from dash-cam video provided by Chicago Police Department, Laquan McDonald falls to the ground after being shot by officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. (Chicago Police Department via AP)
A memorial to 17-year-old Laquan McDonald and other victims of violence at the Sullivan House Alternative High School in Chicago is seen on April 17, 2015. McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. A judge has ordered the video of the shooting to be made public. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, to possibly face charges for the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Dan Herbert, lawyer for Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, speaks to the press following a bond hearing for Van Dyke at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 after responding to a call of a knife wielding man who had threatened the complainant and was attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Dan Herbert, lawyer for Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, speaks to the press following a bond hearing for Van Dyke at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 after responding to a call of a knife wielding man who had threatened the complainant and was attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez leaves after speaking to the media about Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke following a bond hearing for Van Dyke at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 after responding to a call of a knife wielding man who had threatened the complainant and was attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
This undated autopsy diagram provided by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office shows the location of wounds on the body of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald who was shot by a Chicago Police officer 16 times in 2014. A judge on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015 ordered the city to release squad car dashcam video of the shooting. The officer has been stripped of his police powers, but remains at work on desk duty. (Cook County Medical Examiner via AP)
Rev. Jesse Jackson right, hugs Fred Hampton Jr., left, after a vigil for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot and killed Oct. 20, 2014 in Chicago. Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, with first degree murder in the killing. Hampton's father Fred Hampton Sr. was the Illinois chapter President of the Black Panther Party and was shot and killed in 1969. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left, and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy appear at a news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago, announcing first-degree murder charges against police officer Jason Van Dyke in the Oct. 24, death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The city then released the dash-cam video of the shooting to media outlets after the news conference. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks to the media during a vigil for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot and killed Oct. 20, 2014 in Chicago. Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, with first degree murder in the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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The Chicago Police Department has been under federal investigation over officers' use of lethal force.

The recommendation marks the start of formal proceedings in the officers' firing. The Police Board, whose nine members are appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, must consider Johnson's recommendation and then make the decision on firing the officers.

Van Dkye is facing charges of first-degree murder and is on unpaid leave. He has pleaded not guilty.

"Today, the Superintendent filed with the Police Board charges against five members of the Police Department alleging multiple rule violations stemming from the police involved fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald," a statement from the Police Board said.

"The Superintendent has recommended that each of the five officers be discharged from the Chicago Police Department."

The Police Board, whose nine members are appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, must consider Johnson's recommendation and then make the decision on firing the officers.

"The public is reminded that the filing of charges is not evidence of guilt," the statement added.

Sergeant Stephen Franko, officers Janet Mondragon, Daphne Sebastian and Ricardo Viramontes are named along with Van Dyke. According to charges released on Tuesday, all allegedly made false or inaccurate statements about the circumstances surrounding McDonald's death.

An initial status hearing for the cases is scheduled for Sept. 19.

The police reports on the October 2014 shooting conflicted with video footage of the incident, sparking accusations that Van Dyke's fellow officers were trying to cover up an unjustified shooting.

Emanuel fired police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in the wake of the video release, and thousands of protesters took to the streets of Chicago over McDonald's death and the subsequent handling of the case.

Initially Johnson recommended that 10 officers be terminated, though that number dropped to seven because some officers retired, among other reasons, the Chicago Tribune reported. It was unclear why that number dropped to five officers.

(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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