Witness to Laquan McDonald’s Death Says Police Pressured Her to Change Story

By Sameer Rao Sep 30, 2016

A witness to Laquan McDonald‘s fatal shooting by ex-Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke filed a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department (CPD) on Monday (September 26) that alleges officers tried to cover up the facts and force her to alter her story.

The lawsuit, a copy of which was published by the Chicago Tribune yesterday (September 29), says that police unlawfully detained witness Alma Benitez after the shooting, taking her to a station against her will and telling her "to retract and/or forget what she witnessed." The suit also says that "officers attempted to view, extract and/or remove any recording of the shooting or incident that Plaintiff recorded on her phone" and accuses "Detective David March, Sergeant Daniel Gallagher and then-Lieutenant Anthony Wojcik" of writing false reports from interviews with her and other witnesses.

Benitez was leaving a nearby Burger King when she saw Van Dyke shoot McDonald. Following the 2014 shooting, she told a journalist at WMAQ-Ch. 5 that Van Dyke had no reason to shoot the Black 17-year-old. 

McDonald’s killing and the alleged cover-up by Chicago officials prompted major protests and outrage that shook the city’s political establishment, eventually leading to police superintendent Garry McCarthy’s resignation and Cook County state’s attorney Anita Alvarez’s electoral defeat. A special grand jury will decide the fate of seven fired officers who were accused of filing false reports.