5 Chicago officers face firing over slaying of black teen
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.
See images from the scene:
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)