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Family seeks justice after charges against dropped off-duty Chicago cop

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Miguel Flores and Erick Lagunas were killed in a crash shortly after John Ardelean left a North Side bar. (WLS)

For eight long years, the families of Miguel Flores and Erick Lagunas have been fighting for justice. And now they want the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

The two friends were killed in a 2007 Thanksgiving Day crash that involved an off-duty Chicago police officer. In 2010, prosecutors dropped reckless homicide and drunken driving charges against the officer, John Ardelean.

After a Cook County judge dismissed the case and, in light of the Laquan McDonald case and a federal investigation into the Chicago Police Department, the families are demanding that Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez refer the case to the U.S. Department of Justice.

"We feel with an independent review hopefully we will get a different outcome," said Nancy Flores, the sister of Miguel Flores.

Miguel Flores and Lagunas were killed shortly after Ardelean left Martini Ranch, a Near North Side bar. Surveillance video from the bar shows the off-duty cop drinking three beers and four shots within a two-hour period.

Ardelean has claimed the shots were water, but his blood-alcohol level was not tested until several hours after the crash. Without that key evidence, prosecutors said they had no choice but to drop charges.

"There's been a history of injustice for the Latino community, for the black community and people of color, we are tired of it and now is time to stand up," said Victoria Lagunas, a cousin of Erick Lagunas.

The Flores and Lagunas families were hoping that a meeting Monday with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office in Maywood would bring new news.

However, they were once again told, without key evidence, their case can go no further - not to an appeals court or to the Justice Department.

A State's Attorney's office official said that they have explored all options, but concluded that this case could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Ardelean has since been fired from CPD.

"It's obviously another wall we've ran into, but again we've been doing this for eight years, and it's not over for us," Nancy Flores said.

Related Topics:
drunk drivingchicago police departmentcar crashMaywood
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