Former Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo Sr., 67, who led the union during the tumultuous years immediately after the shooting of Laquan McDonald, has died after a weekslong battle with COVID-19.
Mr. Angelo, who served as president of the police union from 2014 to 2017, died Tuesday, according to his son, Chicago Police Sgt. Dean Angelo Jr. He said his father had tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-September and had been in intensive care since Sept. 26. His son had earlier declined to say whether his dad had been vaccinated.
Mr. Angelo was the son of a Chicago police officer himself, and he has a daughter on the force in addition to Dean Angelo Jr. Another daughter is a CPS teacher, while another son is a Chicago firefighter.
“He was a gentleman,” said Dan Herbert, a former union attorney who represented former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in his trial for McDonald’s murder. “He would fight hard for his members, but he did it with class and you can’t always say that about everyone.”
Mr. Angelo rose to the rank of detective and specialized in arson investigations, his son said. In all, Mr. Angelo spent more than 37 years on the police force, mostly as a gang officer.
He met his wife of nearly 40 years, Claudia, on his lunch break while working as a patrolman.
Mr. Angelo completed some college before he joined CPD, and went back to school when the department adopted a tuition reimbursement program in 1980. He went on to get a doctorate degree, and later taught law enforcement classes at National Louis University and the College of St. Joseph, his son said.
As union president, Mr. Angelo was an early lightning rod in the debate over police reform. He became the most public defender of the police force when the release of video showing Van Dyke firing 16 shots at 17-year-old McDonald put the department under unprecedented scrutiny. When Van Dyke was suspended from the force, Mr. Angelo hired him to work as a custodian at FOP headquarters.
Mr. Angelo attended nearly all of the pre-trial hearings in the nearly three years it took for Van Dyke to go to trial. He attended every day of Van Dyke’s 2018 trial, often sitting beside Van Dyke’s wife and family, who he became close with.
Mr. Angelo attended the trial even though he had lost a heated election for FOP president the year before. His opponents had vowed to be even more confrontational with the mayor’s office.
Funeral arrangements are pending.