A Chicago police union vice president has filed charges against former Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 President Dean Angelo for comments he made to the media during the murder trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke who was convicted in October for killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald while on duty. The charges against Angelo claim that his comments during the trial violated the police union’s constitution and worked against the best interests of the organization.
Angelo was union president when McDonald was killed. He hired Van Dyke to work as a janitor at the union hall after Van Dyke was suspended by the Chicago Police Department. Angelo was one of Van Dyke’s most vocal supporters throughout the criminal proceedings.
Union Vice President Martin Preib, who filed the charges against Angelo, has made no secret of his disdain for reporters and local media, often saying they are anti-police and unfair. Preib’s allegations against Angelo could result in the former president being kicked out of the union. It’s just one skirmish in the larger battle for the future of the police union and its relationship with the press. Preib ran on a so-called blue slate that took over the presidency of the union from Angelo in elections held last year.
In a letter to the union’s executive board, Preib outlined three alleged violations of the union’s rules by Angelo, each of them having to do with Angelo speaking to the media “while representing himself as a spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge #7.”
However, in his comments to reporters, Angelo always made clear he was speaking as a former president of the union.
For example, on October 3, Angelo addressed a group of reporters in the lobby of the Leighton Criminal Court Building. It was the same day Van Dyke’s defense attorneys rested their case.
“I just want to make it clear I’m not speaking on behalf of any organization, whether it be the Chicago Police Department or the Fraternal Order of Police. I’m speaking as a retired police officer and a friend of the Van Dykes,” Angelo said before answering questions from reporters.
In his charges, Preib points to a September press conference with Angelo following the death of disgraced former Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.
“People picked a career apart that was for a long time considered to be an honorable career,” Angelo said of Burge’s legacy.
In his formal charges, Preib described Angelo’s comments as “inflammatory” and claims they jeopardized Van Dyke’s legal and media strategy.
Preib did not respond to questions for this story. Angelo declined to comment.
According to the union’s constitution, Angelo would lose his union membership if the board of directors finds he is guilty of violating the union rules. Angelo would then have the right to appeal to the union’s state board.
Patrick Smith reports on criminal justice for WBEZ. Follow him @pksmid.