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Chicago police union asks judge to put hold on administrative interrogations of officers over Laquan McDonald killing

By Jonathan Bilyk | Mar 17, 2016

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The union representing Chicago’s rank-and-file police officers has asked a judge to intervene in the city’s administrative investigation into the events surrounding the killing of Laquan McDonald by Chicago Police, saying the city’s Inspector General’s refusal to put off administrative interrogations of the officer charged with murder over McDonald’s killing and other officers on the scene who may later be charged has violated the collective bargaining agreement by not preserving the officers’ rights against potential self-incrimination.

On March 16, the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge #7 filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against the city of Chicago, the Chicago Office of the Inspector General and Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante asking a judge to issue an injunction putting a hold on the Inspector General’s interrogations of the officers while a labor grievance filed by the police union over the matter works its way through arbitration, as the union contends is required by the police CBA.

Van Dyke was charged by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office with first degree murder as the officer who fired the shots that killed McDonald on Oct. 20, 2014. Other officers were also on the scene, and, according to the complaint, Chicago city officials, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, have indicated further criminal charges are likely against those other officers, as well.

As the criminal investigation and proceedings continue, the city in January also launched what it has called an “administrative investigation” into the shooting through the Inspector General’s office, specifically to investigate whether Van Dyke and the other officers on the scene lied about the shooting or interfered in other ways with the investigation into McDonald’s death.

The complaint said the Inspector General’s office then ordered Van Dyke and several other officers to appear for official interviews, indicating “that their appearance is required to provide a court reported statement in relation to the shooting.”

Since Van Dyke has already been charged in connection with the shooting, and other officers who were on the scene that night may also be charged, the police union said the mandatory administrative interrogation would amount to an unconstitutional infringement on the officers’ rights under the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. The union said protection against such infringement under the auspices of an administrative proceeding is provided in the officers’ labor contract.

Yet, the complaint said, the city has indicated “it will not provide Van Dyke or any other involved officer their constitutional rights concerning self-incrimination.” This decision by the Inspector General prompted the union to file a labor grievance on March 14 against the city, which it is seeking to take to arbitration.

In the meantime, the union said a court order is needed to prevent the city from proceeding with the scheduled interrogations of the officers until the labor grievance is resolved.

The police union is represented in the action by attorney Jennifer W. Russell, of Chicago.

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Organizations in this Story

Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7J. Russell Law LLCCity of Chicago