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Police Union Fights COPA's Recommendation To Fire Officer Who Used Homophobic Slur During Downtown Unrest In May

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago Police officer was caught on video hurling a homophobic slur at a protester during civil unrest in the downtown area on Saturday, May 30.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability recommended that the officer be fired. But as CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police said the penalty is too harsh.

The video during the May 30 protests and the officer's actions will not go away. After someone tosses a barricade in his direction, the officer says, "Wait until I turn my back, you f****t!"

The officer was later identified as Matthew Drinnan. COPA recommended his termination last week.

"No one talks about the fact that he was the victim of an aggravated battery," said Chicago FOP President John Catanzara. "He was hit in the back with a traffic cone."

The video does show the demonstrator throwing the cone toward the officer. Yet COPA, who originally stripped Drinnan of his badge and police powers, said he isn't fit to serve and protect anymore – despite Drinnan having a clean record since joining the force in 2017.

"He should have never been stripped of his police powers," Catanzara said. "Maybe a little training as far as keeping his emotions in check a little bit more."

Another officer was seen flipping off peaceful protesters as he left a demonstration around that time. When that happened, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, "In my view, that person needs to be immediately stripped of their police powers and they should start the process of firing him."

Catanzara told CBS 2 that officer was not fired – instead, he received training and is back working. The union president said just because a homophobic slur was used does not mean the stakes should be different.

"It's a kneejerk reaction to public sentiment. They're trying to make a statement. They're trying to push the needle even farther of what's acceptable to fire an officer and make it even less and less of transgression," Catanzara said. "Not acceptable. We're never going to accept. We're going to keep fighting."

It is a fight the union boss plans to push as far as possible.

COPA's recommendation came four months after it started reviewing the matter.

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