CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Police officer charged with killing Laquan McDonald reportedly has a new job.
Sources tell CBS 2 Officer Jason Van Dyke has been hired by his own union, the Fraternal Order of Police. Van Dyke was suspended without pay after he was charged with first-degree murder for shooting McDonald
The 17-year-old McDonald was killed in October 2014. The shooting was captured on dash cam video released by the city last November. It took prosecutors a year to charge Van Dyke.
Community leaders are already outraged at the reported hiring of Van Dyke.
“The FOP hiring him sends a hell of a message to the city of Chicago and the citizens of Chicago saying ‘we don’t care what you think, we don’t care what he did, we defend him know matter what,’ Well, you know what? I have 200, 300 brothers out here who’ve got families; who can’t get a job. Hire all of them,” said Fr. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina.
Pfleger said the FOP should be ashamed for hiring Van Dyke.
“This is what sets Chicago back, and this is what tells communities that they really don’t give a damn about what’s going on out here in the streets. All they care about is protecting police, no matter what they do wrong,” Pfleger said.
MacCormac College criminal justice professor Michael Brown, a former police officer, said not only is Van Dyke entitled to due process in his criminal case, but the FOP can hire who it wants, since it is a private organization funded by its members, not public dollars.
“There is a need for police reform, but to attack this organization in stating that they don’t have a right to give him a job, you’ve to be careful about that message,” Brown said. “He’s only a janitor helping out in the Fraternal Order of Police. He is not a spokesperson on News Affairs. He is not actively a police officer.”
Rev. Jesse Jackson said the FOP’s decision to hire Van Dyke is a slap in the face, and further erodes public trust in the police.
“The fact that the FOP has hired Mr. Jason Van Dyke is really an act of defiance. It compromises their ability to be fair officers,” he said.
Jackson noted the FOP also has filed a lawsuit challenging the Chicago Inspector General’s investigation of the McDonald shooting, claiming it has violated the union’s collective bargaining agreement with the city. The union has said the IG’s office is refusing to guarantee Van Dyke or any other officer being investigated in the case their constitutional right against self-incrimination, even though Van Dyke already has been charged with murder.
The FOP suit is seeking to block the inspector general from interrogating officers in the case until an arbitrator has ruled on the alleged contract violation. The Independent Police Review Authority has asked the inspector general to examine the accounts of officers who were at the scene when McDonald was killed, and gave accounts that conflict with the infamous dashcam video of the shooting.
“The police who saw the killing and filed false reports, they’re suing the police, and they cannot be disciplined by the new chief. If those who filed false reports cannot be disciplined, and those who kill people are hired by the FOP, that further bankrupts the system and leaves us without the ability to trust that system,” Jackson said.
Jackson said a rally will be held at Rainbow/PUSH Coalition headquarters on Saturday, when he will call on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to act.
Other community activists were planning a protest rally outside FOP headquarters at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
The FOP has not returned repeated calls for comment, and the Chicago Police Department declined comment, stating they are not directly involved with this matter.