CHICAGO — The Chicago police board has decided to allow the officers accused of aiding in the Laquan McDonald cover up to go back on the job for now.
Superintendent Eddie Johnson has suspended the four officers who were on the scene the night McDonald was shot and killed by Officer Jason Van Dyke.
Three officers Janet Mondragon, Daphne Sebastian, Ricardo Viramontes as well as Sgt. Stephen Franko were on duty and on the scene with Van Dyke.
Superintendent Johnson wants to fire those four officers for their attempts to corroborate Van Dyke's account of what happened that night. They have been off the job without pay since August of 2016. And potentially they could face criminal charges as well.
Today, at the request of the special prosecutor Patricia Holmes and the attorneys representing them, the police board ruled the officers can return to work on desk duty, because if the disciplinary cases against them were to proceed, they could jeopardize the criminal case against Van Dyke. With no timeline in place it is denying them a right to earn a living and a violation of their constitutional rights. They are allowed to return to work until the criminal case of Van Dyke is decided.
"Certainly I believe everyone should have their day at a hearing. I have said for a long time if this is about fairness,” said Kevin Graham, president of the Fraternal Order of Police. “People have to be treated fairly no matter where they are at.”
Superintendent Eddie Johnson released a statement Monday night saying:
I have no intention of changing my original recommendation to the Chicago Police Board to terminate the officers. However, today's ruling by the Police Board leaves me no choice but to reinstate the officers to a paid status. While legally the ruling leaves us with no other short term options, the officers' police powers will remain suspended and they will not return to the street.
Johnson will determine when the officers can return to desk duty.