In Probe of Laquan McDonald Shooting, Police Union Sues Over Officer Interviews

Photos: Follow developments in the 2014 fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke.
Photos: Follow developments in the 2014 fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke.

The union representing rank-and-file Chicago police officers filed suit on Wednesday challenging the investigation by the city inspector general’s office into the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. 

The suit by the Fraternal Order of Police alleged the inspector general violated the union’s collective-bargaining agreement with the city by refusing to guarantee Officer Jason Van Dyke or any other officer being investigated in the case their constitutional rights against self-incrimination.

The FOP on Monday filed a grievance over the issue and asked a Cook County judge for an injunction blocking the inspector general from interviewing the officers until an arbitrator decides if the collective-bargaining agreement was violated.

In the suit, the FOP contended that under its contract with the city, officers who face likely criminal charges can invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and not answer questions posed by inspector general investigators.

The inspector general’s office has the authority to recommend that officers be fired, but it’s not conducting a criminal investigation into the McDonald shooting.

A disturbing video showing Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times in October 2014 has roiled the city since a Cook County judge ordered its release last November. Hours before the release, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez charged McDonald with murder, but she was roundly criticized for waiting more than a year after the shooting to bring the charges. She lost to challenger Kim Foxx in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

In hundreds of pages of police records released by the Emanuel administration in December, several officers claimed that McDonald moved or turned threateningly toward officers, even though the video of the shooting shows the teen walking away. Sources have told the Tribune that an investigation by federal authorities has branched into looking at possible obstruction of justice by the officers at the scene.

The Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates officer-involved shootings, referred the McDonald case to the inspector general’s office immediately after Sharon Fairley took over the agency. Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed out Fairley’s predecessor amid the fallout over the McDonald video.

The inspector general has the power to investigate and make recommendations on employee matters and policies, but the Police Department does not have to follow them. The office typically does not get involved with police-involved shootings, but Fairley said in December that she wanted the inspector general to look into officers’ accounts in the McDonald case and why they conflicted with the video.

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Source: Chicago Tribune | Jeremy Gorner