CHICAGO — Snippets of stories about wasted youth and wrongful convictions were shared Tuesday outside City Hall, with all involved pointing the finger at one man – a disgraced Chicago police detective: Reynaldo Guevara.
David Lugo recounted spending more than two decades in prison, being denied a proper goodbye to family members along the way.
“I did 26 years in prison due to Guevara,” Lugo told reporters. “I lost my mother, my sister, my brother, cousins, and other family members.”
Daniel Rodriguez spent nearly 17 years and nine months in prison for a murder he did not commit, leaving behind a 2-year-old.
“Imagine that? Leaving your 2-year-old and coming home and your granddaughter is 2 years old,” Rodriguez said.
The men say missed time with their families is due to the misconduct of Guevara, who worked on the city’s West Side in the 1970s and 1980s. Dozens of men have accused Guevara of “fixing” their murder cases, in part, by forcing confessions, intimidating witnesses and manipulating lineups.
More than 30 murder convictions under his watch have since been overturned.
On Tuesday, 11 more men filed civil lawsuits against Guevara, some CPD officers and the city of Chicago. Among the group were the Hernandez brothers, who spent 25 years in prison following a wrongful murder conviction.
“We suffered for 25 years. Our family suffered as well trying to get us out,” said Rosendo Hernandez.
With both men now in their 40s, their mother, Esther Hernandez, spoke out about the pain endured.
“They kidnapped both of my sons,” Hernandez said. “Took my babies at the same time. I could not be at home by myself because all I would do is cry.”
The group’s lawyers say Chicago has spent millions in taxpayer money to fight the cases brought forth by Guevara victims but say more could be done.
“An apology would go so far as to repair the harm done,” said Russell Ainsworth, a lawyer with the Law Offices of Loevy & Loevy.
Attorneys also call on the city’s next mayor to take a stand against police misconduct.
“We’ll see if it changes under the new mayor,” says attorney John Loevy, “or if they continue to deny the undeniable.”
Guevara, who has never been charged with a crime, has consistently pleaded the fifth when questioned about the allegations. The former cop retired in 2005 and now lives in Texas.
More than $1 million in taxpayer-funded pension payments from the city of Chicago has been issued to Guevara.