Man dies in Chicago police custody; Family demands answers

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CHICAGO – A Southwest Side family is the latest to demand answers after the death of a loved one in police custody.

24-year-old Heriberto Godinez, Jr. died in police custody early Monday in the Brighton Park neighborhood.  Police were responding to a burglary call and said they found the suspect, Godinez, at the scene sweating and having a tough time breathing.

Paramedics were called but despite their efforts, police say Godinez became unresponsive and died.

The man’s family, and their lawyer, believe it was not an accident.

“We definitely feel in this city there’s been a culture, for decades, of covering up the misdeeds of police officers (and) covering up deaths,” said Jeffrey Granich, the family’s lawyer.

Godinez had encountered police from the same district before.

In 2010, officers said he opened a fire hydrant in the same neighborhood and sprayed a woman driving by. She happened to be the girlfriend of a police officer. The family claimed in a federal lawsuit that that officer and three others later forced their way into their home, looking for Godinez. They sued and won.

Now, with Godinez dead in police custody, the family’s concerned about a possible vendetta, or at the least, an over-zealous arrest. They have been told dashcam video exists. They want answers and an independent federal investigation.

.The medical examiner issued a statement today, saying it’s following procedure, and that takes time but the answers will come.

Chicago police say this is an ongoing investigation and are declining to comment.

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