Van Dyke is believed to be the first Chicago officer convicted in a fatal on-duty shooting of an African-American. The other three are thought to the first to be charged with trying to cover up an on-duty shooting. Gaffney is the only one who remains with the police department, although he has been suspended without pay.
Although the officers' case has not garnered as much attention as Van Dyke's, many viewed it as more significant because it challenges the code of silence that critics have long accused the police department of using to cover up its messes. Christy Lopez, a former Justice Department attorney who helped lead an investigation of the police department after the McDonald shooting, said it's noteworthy the trial was held in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel famously acknowledged the department's code of silence after the release of the video.
Speaking of the "blue code of silence," Hunter said the verdict "solidifies it, bolsters it, keeps it intact and in play."
Attorneys for the officers accused of lying about the shooting ridiculed the decision to charge them, telling the court during the trial that the officers merely wrote what they observed or, in March's case, what the other officers told him they saw. They said there was no evidence that the officers conspired to get their stories straight.
"The state wants you to criminalize police reports," McKay bellowed at one point.
Robert Weisskopff, a retired Chicago police officer who once headed the lieutenants' union, expressed worry that the case will cause other officers to be less forthcoming.
"What cops on the street are going to start writing is, 'We came, we saw, he's dead,'" he said. "Why would you do any more investigation if you thought you could lose everything if what you believed was true turns out not to be?"
Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, said officers already shaken by the prosecution of six Baltimore police officers in the 2015 arrest and death of Freddie Gray —— echoed that sentiment.
"What's the incentive to disclose everything you know if you fear it will be used against you?" he said.
Van Dyke is due to be sentenced Friday by Judge Vincent Gaughan. The city isn't planning the same show of force for Van Dyke's sentencing that it deployed on the day of the verdict in his trial, when metal barriers lined the street outside the courthouse and dozens of uniformed officers stood every few feet. There are no plans to cancel high school sporting events or nervous parents talking about keeping their kids home from school, like there were on that day.
Although police were not expecting a large turnout of protesters for Van Dyke's hearing, black community leaders said they would pay close attention to the sentence. The Rev. Marshall Hatch, a prominent black minister on the city's West Side, said the hopefulness that the black community felt after Van Dyke was convicted will evaporate if he receives a light prison sentence or even walks free.
"It will be like he got away with murder, absolutely," he said.
Estimates of the sentence Van Dyke might get have varied wildly: The murder charge carries a prison term of four to 20 years, but Gaughan also could just give Van Dyke probation for that count. The aggravated battery charge carries a sentence of six to 30 years behind bars and does not allow for probation alone.