Man freed on wrongful conviction sues former CPD officer

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A man who spent 23 years in prison for a crime he did not commit is filing a civil rights lawsuit against a former Chicago police officer.

Jose Montanez said he was framed by former CPD detective Reynaldo Guevara.

Seventy cases involving the retired officer were reviewed by an independent counsel a few years ago. Of those, several were referred back to the Cook County State's Attorney's office for a more thorough review of the prosecutions. As a result, so far five men have been released from prison and Montanez filed the federal lawsuit against Guevara Monday.

Montanez, 49, is just getting his life together.

"It's 25 years that's gone and it's never gonna come back, you know. There's a lot of pain involved there," he said.

Last year, Montanez was released from prison after serving more than two decades in prison for a crime in which he is now found innocent.

"I don't think I will ever put this behind me. It's always going to be there," Montanez said.

The lawsuit Montanez filed alleges he was wrongfully convicted for a 1993 shooting and that then-detective Guevara preyed on young Latinos to close cases.

"For a detective to have two or three allegations of framing somebody is remarkable. For him to have over 90 is astounding," said Russell Ainsworth, Montanez's attorney.

Montanez worked at a uniform factory after high school, and was arrested when he was 25.

"It hurt me a lot. Worried too much about what was happening to him," said Emilio Montanez, father.

"Everybody needs to be aware about this. It's not made up, it's true. It's what happened to me and it's happened to a lot of other people," Montanez said.

Other officers and the city of Chicago area also named in the lawsuit against Guevara. The city's law department spokesman said they have not seen the complaint yet. ABC7 Eyewitness News reached out to the private attorney representing Guevara, but we have not heard back.
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