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Judge finds Chicago policemen not guilty in conspiracy trial

FILE PHOTO: Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke (L), reacts to his guilty verdict, as his attorney Daniel Herbert looks on during his trial for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, in Chicago, Illinois, Oct. 5, 2018. Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A judge on Thursday found three Chicago policemen not guilty of conspiring to protect white fellow police officer Jason Van Dyke after he fatally shot a black teenager in 2014.

A jury convicted Van Dyke in October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the shooting of Laquan McDonald, 17.

Judge Domenica Stephenson of the Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County also found David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney not guilty of official misconduct and obstruction of justice. The trial began on Nov. 27.

Walsh and March, who was a detective, are no longer with the police force. Gaffney was suspended without pay.

Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes said Van Dyke’s colleagues offered accounts of the shooting that conflicted with video footage to shield Van Dyke from prosecution. Defense attorneys argued that the prosecution’s case lacked evidence.

Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales and Robert Chiarito in Chicago; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Matthew Lewis