The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in Chicago recently announced the hiring of former officer Jason Van Dyke as an office janitor.
The decision prompted protests since Van Dyke is awaiting trial on a charge of first-degree murder for allegedly shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald to death in 2014, The Associated Press reported.
“This officer is in a very difficult situation financially. He has a family and we would do it for anybody that works as a Chicago police officer,” Dean Angelo, FOP President, said of the decision to hire Van Dyke, according to AP.
Van Dyke has reportedly found it difficult to keep a job since his involvement in the shooting of McDonald, which was caught on video. He was suspended from the police department without pay.
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The footage, showing Van Dyke firing his weapon 16 times, only came to light last November when a judge ordered it released to the public.
The union’s decision to hire Van Dyke brought a group of activists to the FOP building to protest.
“It’s a slap in the face to Chicago residents,” said Ja’Mal Green.
Cornelius Longstreet, a former officer and FOP member, also opposed the move.
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“I’m not saying that Mr. Van Dyke is guilty, I’m not saying that he’s innocent,” Longstreet told AP. “What the bottom line is, is that I don’t think this is something that the union should have done. I think the union is sending a bad message.”
The release of the video triggered mainly peaceful protests last year. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded by firing Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy.
“Now is the time for fresh eyes and leadership,” Emanuel said at the time, according to KTRK-TV Houston.
Van Dyke was released from jail after paying $150,000 of a $1.5 million bail.
Dan Herbert, Van Dyke’s defense attorney, argued his client acted in self-defense.
Although the police alleged McDonald was carrying a knife, investigators found it was folded into the handle.
State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez stated last November when charging Van Dyke with first-degree murder that his actions “were not justified or the proper use of deadly force by an officer,” according to the Guardian.
A total of 15 complaints have been filed against Van Dyke, including the use of racial epithets and pointing a gun at an arrestee without justification.