Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke walks in the courtroom for a hearing in his shooting case of Laquan McDonald in Chicago Illinois
By Suzannah Gonzales
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Chicago police union has hired the white officer charged with fatally shooting a black teenager in 2014 as a way of helping him financially, the group's president said on Thursday.
Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder last November, more than a year after he shot Laquan McDonald 16 times. The October 2014 shooting was captured on patrol car dashboard camera videos that were released on the day Van Dyke was charged, prompting weeks of protests.
Dean Angelo, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge 7, said in a statement that Van Dyke had been hired a number of weeks ago. Van Dyke, who was suspended from the department, was in a difficult financial situation, Angelo said, adding the union would do the same for any Chicago officer.
"Due to the notoriety of the incident, the ongoing threats of harm and intimidation and other issues caused him to become completely unemployable," Angelo said. "Furthermore, after several threats against the safety of his spouse and her clients his wife was forced to shut down her family-run business; resulting in zero household income."
Local media reported that Van Dyke was hired as a janitor.
Father Michael Pfleger, a priest and social activist, told Reuters that he was outraged by the hiring.
"In my mind, this is absolutely unacceptable," Pfleger said. "This is why the bridge between police and community is so destroyed now. If I hired at my church a guy who was indicted and awaiting trail for killing a police officer, they would be tearing me up."
The former officer's attorney was unavailable on Thursday and previously referred media to the union for comment.
(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales and Eric M. Johnson; editing by Toni Reinhold and G Crosse)