Alma Benitez filed a lawsuit against several Chicago cops accusing them of witness tampering in the Laquan McDonald shooting case.
The City of Chicago and some Chicago police officers are being sued by a witness in the shooting of Laquan McDonald. The witness, Alma Benitez, stated that she was detained for six hours and pressured by the officers to change her story and claim that she saw nothing concerning the shooting.
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) September 26, 2016
Jason Van Dyke, the officer who fatally shot McDonald, faces up to 45 years in prison for an attempt to cover up a crime by bullying a witness into keeping quiet about what she had seen.
“It was super-exaggerated; you didn’t need that many cops to begin with. They didn’t need to shoot him. They didn’t. They basically had him face to face. There was no purpose why they had to shoot him,”
It is stated in the lawsuit that none of the officers present at the scene of the shooting, except Van Dyke, who wrote false statements regarding the incident ever were disciplined or banished from the justice system before the video of the shooting was released in November 2015.
Chicago police officers claimed that McDonald was holding a knife and lunged at them in a menacing manner, which prompted Van Dyke to fire at him several times. But the dash-cam video of the incident told a completely different story, as McDonald never lunged at the officers. He was walking down the street before he was murdered.
Benitez said after she saw the officers following McDonald as he jogged in the street before he was killed, she took her cell phone out and tried to record the incident, but she wasn’t sure if she successfully recorded it or not. Nonetheless, the police became aware of her attempt to record the incident; they approached her and asked for her cell phone before taking her into custody.
She was taken to Area Headquarters by the officers and after they realized she didn’t succeed in recording the shooting, they started telling her to forget what she had seen and that they had a video footage of McDonald lunging at the officers with a knife, which they didn’t. They all lied in order to persuade Benitez into changing her story.
According to the lawsuit, Benitez was taken to the Area Headquarters against her will. During her detainment, the officers never told her if she could leave or not. They didn’t leave her with the option to take her own car when she was being taken into custody.
The officer involved in the shooting faces up to 45 years in jail for killing McDonald, and we hope that he’ll serve his time in full volume. We praise the bravery of Alma Benitez who didn’t back off in the face of police abuse of power and now can help serve justice not only for herself but for Laquan McDonald too.