Friends of crash victims protest at City Hall

April 15, 2009 3:37:01 PM PDT
Visitation services were underway on Wednesday afternoon for one of the victims from last Friday's deadly crash on the Dan Ryan expressway.Family and friends began arriving at a Justice funeral home to pay their respects to Andrew Cazares.

Cazares and Fausto Manzara were pulled over to the far right lane near 18th Street because of a flat tire when a SUV slammed into them.

Prosecutors say the SUV was driven by off duty Chicago police officer Joseph Frugoli. A police report shows Frugoli had a blood alcohol content nearly 3-times the legal limit. He was released from jail after his family posted $50,000 dollars toward his $500,000 bond. And this case has many people complaining that the case again Frugoli is being handled differently because he is a police officer.

Members of a Latino organization and DePaul students protested at city hall on Wednesday morning. They had a message for Mayor Daley, the Chicago Police Department and the state's attorney regarding off duty Chicago police officer Joseph Frugoli and the deadly accident he is accused of causing.

The thing that makes me angry is that they're valuing a killer's freedom. Two lives from taken and the killer gets to walk free for $50,000," said Alexis Mendez, DePaul student.

The protestors are friends and family of the two victims killed in the deadly auto crash. Andrew Cazares, 23, and Fausto Manzera, 21, say they are angry that Joseph Frugoli, an 18 year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, is now out on bail while his case makes it through the courts.

"If it was Fausto who had killed Officer Frugoli, these men would be in jail today with no bond, I assure you," said Julie Santos, Lulac activist.

Santos, a community activist and friend of one of the victims, Fausto Manzera who grew up with her son, is asking the protestors to sign a petition demanding justice to be delivered to Mayor Daley.

Fausto was a beautiful human being. He didn't deserve to burn to death at the hands of a stranger," said Santos.

The two victims were friends. Fausto Manzera was a senior at DePaul University.

Letters of support have gone to the state attorney on behalf of the family by several community organizations, including the families of Miguel Flores and Eric Laguanas who just last year were allegedly killed by an off duty Chicago police officer under the influence of alcohol.

"Months later it's happened again. Two young Latino men are dead. Four young Latino men have died in the last 14 months because of off-duty police officers. Who is going to be responsible for them?" said Nancy Flores, sister of Miguel Flores.

The Cook County state's attorney's office released a statement about the Dan Ryan crash on Wednesday evening: "The state's attorney's office has handled this case professionally and appropriately and will prosecute the criminal charges against Officer Frugoli to the full extent of the law. To suggest otherwise is not only unfair, it is inaccurate."


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