(CHICAGO) — The Chicago police officer charged with the murder of a high school student has a new job with a Chicago police union, much to the outrage of many in the community.
Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged in November with the first-degree murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times, according to an autopsy. Van Dyke is currently awaiting trial, according to the Chicago Police Department. He has pleaded not guilty.
Police dash cam footage showing the Oct. 20, 2014 fatal exchange between the police officer and McDonald, caused national protests after it was released by the police department this past November. The video showed that McDonald was armed with a knife but was not moving toward the responding officers when he was shot.
Van Dyke has been suspended without pay, a Chicago Police Department spokesperson told ABC News Thursday.
The Fraternal Order of Police, a police union in Chicago, hired Van Dyke after he was suspended from the police force, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday. The police union referred all questions to union president Dean Angelo Sr., who has not immediately responded to requests from ABC News for comment.
But Angelo told the Sun-Times that Van Dyke has been hired by the union for custodial work and makes $12 an hour.
“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.”
But some community leaders expressed outrage at the move.
“Not only is it insulting and outrageous, but it is a slap in the face. It is the reason we have this continued breakdown between law enforcement and community,” the Rev. Michael L. Pfleger, a pastor at St. Sabina church and a community activist who has met with the family of Laquan McDonald, told ABC News Thursday.
“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,” he added.
Frank Giancamilli of the Chicago Police Department told ABC News Thursday that the “decision to hire Mr. Van Dyke was completely independent of the Chicago Police Department.”
A representative for Van Dyke’s attorney, Daniel Herbert, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The case has been a political crisis for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who fired the former superintendent of police and hired Eddie Johnson as interim superintendent on Monday. The mayor’s office declined to comment Thursday on the issue of Van Dyke’s hiring by the union.
Pfleger said this issue brings police and community relations, “back to square one.”
Two protests are planned at FOP headquarters Thursday — one at noon and one at 6:30 p.m., according to ABC’s Chicago station WLS.
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