Officer is being charged with first-degree murder in the killing of LaQuan McDonald
Community leaders calling Fraternal Order of Police’s Decision to hire Van Dyke while he awaits trial a “Slap in the face”
Activists and citizens are outraged after it was revealed that Chicago’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has hired officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot and killed LaQuan McDonald 16 times as he was walking away, to do custodial work at their facilities while he awaits trial for charges of first-degree murder.
Dash cam footage showing the October 20, 2014 fatal exchange between the police officer and McDonald caused national protests after it was released by the Chicago District Attorney’s Office in November 2015. In the footage, McDonald can be seen allegedly holding a knife but in no way threatening the responding officers at the time of the shooting.
In addition to grotesqueness of his killing, protesters also said that the footage being delayed for over a year was a reflection of a broken criminal justice system and then-district attorney Anita Alvarez’s complacency in its dysfunctions. Alvarez was voted out of office earlier this month after citywide organizations behind the #ByeAnita campaign.
As first reported by the Associated Press, Van Dyke was hired roughly three weeks ago by FOP to work as a janitor at their facilities and make $12 an hour.
Dean Angelo, president of the union, told AP that Van Dyke is in a “very difficult situation financially” while he waits to stand trial. Van Dyke has been suspended without pay by the Chicago Police Department.
“He might be on the roof, he might be in the office, he does anything we need,” Angelo told the Sun-Times, also noting that it is not unprecedented. “We’ve probably had 100 people in no-pay status who we got jobs or hired at the hall. This is nothing new.”
Whether this is typical or commonplace nonetheless does not make it ethical, and many community leaders were quick to express outrage upon learning about the move.
“Not only is it insulting and outrageous, but it is a slap in the face,” said Rev. Michael L. Pfleger, a Chicago-area pastor at St. Sabina church, “It is the reason we have this continued breakdown between law enforcement and community. This is much bigger than LaQuan McDonald, this is an insult to the city of Chicago. It is an insult to him and his family, and it is an insult, I think, to police officers.”
Frank Giancamilli, speaking on behalf of the Chicago Police Department, told ABC News today that the “decision to hire Mr. Van Dyke was completely independent of the Chicago Police Department.”
According to Pfleger, this news brings police-community relations “back to square one”
A protest over the decision is organized for later this evening at 6:30 outside of the FOP offices in Chicago.
Meet at 6:30pm @ 1412 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, F.O.P hired Jason Van dyke who shot a child sixteen times. We are not having it!!!!!
— Jedidiah Brown (@livelifefreed) March 31, 2016