FOP Watch: FOP responds to firing of 4 officers

Laquan McDonald Thanksgiving ProtestOn Thursday July 18th, a city oversight board voted in favor of the firing of the four officers accused of covering up the circumstances of Laquan’s death. The Police Board found that Sergeant Franko signed off on false reports about the shooting, and that Officers Viramontes, Mondragon and Sebastian provided accounts of the shooting that were contradicted by video.

During the monthly public meeting, FOP officials responded in protest to the decision. Patrick Murray attested “These four people, unfortunately, are getting fired because of what other people did or didn’t do,” he said. “These police officers did their job.”

FOP Vice President Martin Preib took a more radical response stating that this decision “will no doubt lead to more violence in the city and quite likely more violence against the police because officers understand by your fuling that an officer can be fired or indicted merely responding to a job.” He further added that the police oversight board should be dissolved itself.

For Martin Prieb, to state that these officers were “merely responding to a job” is to say that both the shooting by Van Dyke and the continual coverup by the other three officers is part of the “job.” Both the statements made by Murray and Prieb are patently false in that they ignore the fact that the board was firing these officers for their deliberate and intentional actions in covering up an abuse of power.

Specifically, the police board was firing these officers on the grounds that they “said false, misleading, inaccurate, and/or inconsistent statements included that McDonald “stabbed/cut” and/or attempted to “stab/cut” Officer Van Dyke and/or another officer, or words to that effect.”

Similarly, the Police Oversight Committee ruled that in fabricating this narrative in protecting their fellow officer, the four officers broke both rules 2 and 3 of the rules of conduct of the Chicago Police Department including “Any action or conduct which impedes the Department’s efforts to achieve its policy and goals or brings discredit upon the Department” and “Any failure to promote the Department’s efforts to implement its policy or accomplish its goals.”

The comments made by both Murray and Prieb do not even mention nor contest the grounds the board used for firing the officers. Rather, they shift focus to the collective action of all police while on patrol. To claim that more violence will result in defending violence created by police is to shift the blame from the actions of police officers onto the committee that oversees them.

Taking the discussion to Twitter, the FOP continues to push the notion that the “bias” media is solely aiming to frame police, consequently hindering them from their job. 

Responses such as these primary indicate that the FOP rejects the truth and gravity of the shooting of Laquan McDonald in favor of politicized excuses that do not focus on the action of individual officers in real-life situations.

This post is part of an ongoing occasional series of blog posts focusing exclusively on the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents thousands of the Chicago Police Department’s patrol officers. For more posts in the series go to our Latest News section.

In a sense, response tactics such as these reverse the roles of police as to seem that officers, not criminals are the ‘victims’ of abuse by a bias media, an easily influenced general public and specific journalists working to keep police accountable for misconduct.

The police board concluded Thursday that “Each of the three officers failed in their duty — either by outright lying or by shading the truth.”

In the four years since the shooting, the court has found that Officer Jason Van Dyke fabricated a narrative that McDonald posed a serious threat to his safety. This narrative was supported by the three other officers that witnessed the shooting, and they stood by this lie in order to protect their fellow officers. Additionally, no other police officers above Sergeant were fired as a result of the misconduct even when the dashcam video showed that the actions of the officers in no way resemble the narrative they created to protect officer Van Dyke.

Author: Brendan McGovern

Brendan McGovern is a research intern with the Chicago Justice Project.

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