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Police Union Defends Hiring Officer Charged In Laquan McDonald's Death

(CBS) – The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 is defending its hiring of the suspended Chicago police officer who is charged in the controversial death of Laquan McDonald.

The FOP on Thursday confirmed it has employed Jason Van Dyke, who faces charges he murdered McDonald in November 2014 by pumping 16 rounds into the black suspect, as a dashcam rolled nearby.

FOP officials say Van Dyke's family was without income, partly because no one would hire him in the wake of the videotape's public release. Also, the union says, Van Dyke's wife was unable to continue running her home business.

"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," FOP President Dean Angelo said in a prepared statement.

Earlier Thursday, a handful of protesters showed up to the lodge office, demanding to see Angelo.

Protesters Picket FOP Headquarters

"From the beginning, they have been protecting this officer, Jason Van Dyke," protester Ja'Mal Green said. "Today we're here to say, 'Listen FOP, this is not the right message that you should be sending to Chicago residents.'"

St. Sabina Pastor Michael Pfleger shares the same sentiment.

But Van Dyke has supporters. Michael Brown, a former suburban police officer, says the suspended officer should be allowed due process.

"The Fraternal Order of Police has a very long history of assisting Members when they find themselves forced into a no pay status. Over the course of 30-plus years representing Chicago Police Officers, both internal as well as external employment opportunities have been successfully extended to several dozen of our Members. This is not a precedent setting employment issue," Angelo, the union president, said in his statement.

The McDonald case erupted in controversy late last year, when the dash cam video was finally released under court order. Van Dyke is white; McDonald was black. Also, some activists and critics said the city and Cook County State's Attorney's office dragged their feet in responding to the fatal shooting.

Van Dyke reportedly is working as a janitor for the police union.

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