Settlement reached in lawsuit that alleged CPD 'code of silence' protected cop before fatal crash

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A settlement is reached in the civil case against a Chicago police detective who killed two men in a fiery wreck. (WLS)

A settlement has been reached in a wrongful death lawsuit in a fatal 2009 crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway involving a Chicago police officer.

Two men were killed in the crash and in 2012, Chicago police officer Joseph Frugoli pleaded guilty to charges of drunk driving. The families of the men killed in the crash, Andrew Cazares and Fausto Manzera, filed a civil lawsuit against Frugoli and the city of Chicago, alleging that Frugoli was protected by a so-called police "code of Silence." City of Chicago attorneys denied Frugoli was protected by a Chicago Police Department code of silence.

The trial in the civil lawsuit began trial last month and before the jury took the case Friday, both sides reached a settlement. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed,

In court on Nov. 30, Frugoli admitted he is an alcoholic that would binge drink on several beer and Jagermeister shots up to three times a week. Prior to plowing his SUV into Cazares and Fausto's stalled car, Frugoli was involved in other accidents, but was never disciplined by the Chicago Police Department. Those other accidents included two crashes 24 hours apart in January 2008, where Frugoli was suspected of driving drunk. The first occurred when Frugoli's city-owned Crown Vic smashed into a concrete wall.

But, Frugoli claimed in court, "to the best of his knowledge" the 2009 deadly accident was the first time he ever drove drunk.

During the closing arguments, attorneys hammered the city for withholding documents related to Frugoli's involvement in a bar fight in 1992 that led to a five day suspension.

He was allowed to drive home that night without a field sobriety test.

"They didn't settle the case because they liked us. They settled the case because we proved it. We proved there is a code of silence, we proved the investigation was improper and we proved as a result, Joseph Frugoli, an off-duty policeman, drove drunk. Because he drove drunk, he killed my client and he killed the Cazeres' client," said Kevin Conway, an attorney for the Manzera family.

Frugoli was sentenced to eight years in prison and is due to be released in April 2019.

The settlement will go to the City Council for approval. Once approved, it will be made public.
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