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Jason Van Dyke's Family Says He's 'Not The Monster The World Sees'

By Sophie Lucido Johnson in News on May 13, 2016 4:20PM

The Chicago Tribune published an interview today with the family of disgraced Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, in which his wife insists he's "not the monster the world sees him as now."

In the interview—the first Van Dyke's family has given since Van Dyke fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald—they characterize him as a family-loving dad and neighborhood block party organizer.

Tiffany, Van Dyke's wife and high school sweetheart, told the Tribune that while her husband is essentially a loving man, he has changed since joining the police force. The violence of the force had impacted Van Dyke, she said, noting that she and her husband were in marriage counseling prior to the shooting.

Still, the emphasis of the interview is Van Dyke's intrinsic gentleness and compassion, and the struggles his family has faced since the shooting. They've been placed "in a fishbowl," Tiffany said. She described how their lives have been turned inside out, noting that she and Van Dyke no longer allow their two daughters outside alone, and that the curtains of their home are always drawn.

The Tribune also spoke with Van Dyke's father, Owen Van Dyke, and McDonald's great-uncle, Rev. Marvin Hunter. Hunter said that while he could sympathize with Van Dyke's family, he considers Van Dyke himself as a "judge, jury, and executioner."

Van Dyke fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald—a black man—16 times in October 2014. A chilling video of the shooting was released in November, which catalyzed a mass public outcry, a Department of Justice probe, and a damning task force report on the systemic racism within the Chicago Police Department. Van Dyke was suspended without benefits or pay after being charged with first degree murder last fall. He has declined to comment on record.

Read the full Tribune story here.