A judge in Chicago on Thursday found three police officers not guilty of covering up for the officer who killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.
Jason Van Dyke was convicted in October of second-degree murder and aggravated battery for killing the black teen and is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday. The police officer shot the teenager 16 times as he was walking away, as shown in a dashcam video.
McDonald's death sparked widespread protests and calls for police reform.
Prosecutors had claimed reports filed by Officer Thomas Gaffney, former officer Joseph Walsh, and former detective David March contained falsified evidence in a conspiracy to cover up for Van Dyke, including his claim that the 17-year-old lunged at him with a knife. Walsh and March had resigned from the department by the time of the trial.
According to the New York Times, lawyers for the three officers argued that their clients merely reported what they saw or heard from witnesses that night.
All three were accused of obstruction of justice, official misconduct, and conspiracy. The three had waived their right to a jury trial, so Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson decided their case.
"It is not as simple as looking at the reports and comparing them to what was on the video," Stephenson said, according to NPR.
In response to the verdict, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a joint statement that reform efforts at the police department will continue.
"We have entered into an enforceable consent decree with the Illinois Attorney General, equipped all patrol officers with body worn cameras, revised use of force policies, adopted the recommendations of the Community Policing Advisory Panel, and ensured every officer has the best training throughout their careers," they said.