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FOP president demands CPD change death designation of Chicago police officer who died of COVID-19

John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, released a video on Monday saying the department is “playing games” with the current designation of Jose “Joey” Huerta’s death.

John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7
John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, in a video on Monday calls on the Chicago Police Department to change Jose “Joey” Huerta’s death to a line-of-duty designation after he died from complications with COVID-19.
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The president of Chicago’s largest police union blasted the Chicago Police Department for failing to designate the death of an officer as “line of duty” after he died from COVID-19 just before Christmas.

Officer Jose “Joey” Huerta died on Dec. 23 due to an acute hypoxic respiratory failure caused by pneumonia and COVID-19. The Garfield Ridge resident was 50.

Huerta was a 21-year veteran of the department and began his career at the 4th District. Most recently he served in the Gang Investigations Division. During his tenure, he received 117 awards, according to a CPD spokesperson.

John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, released a video on Monday saying the department is “playing games” with the current designation of Huerta’s death.

“Joey died from COVID pneumonia, designate it a line-of-duty death and give him the full honors funeral he deserves,” Catanzara said in the video. “His name will be on a memorial wall because that’s where it deserves to be, and I’ll be damned if this department is going to give him anything less — and his wife and kids and brother and rest of their family and — any less treatment than the other officers got and deserved.”

The other officers Catanzara are referring to also died from complications with COVID-19 and were given line-of-duty designations.

On Wednesday, Catanzara said he couldn’t provide an update on the situation but Huerta’s designation hadn’t changed yet.

A CPD spokesperson said the classification of his death was still under review.

A line-of-duty death designation would grant Huerta’s family access to benefits such as receiving the officer’s salary for a year among other privileges that would need City Council approval.

Visitation for Huerta was held Tuesday at Hallowell & James Funeral Home, 1025 W. 55th St. in Countryside. Burial is private.