Jury rules against former CPD detective Guevara, awards $17M to victim

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A man who was allegedly framed for a 1988 murder by former CPD detective Reynaldo Guevara was awarded $17 million in damages Friday. (WLS)

A federal jury awarded $17 million in damages Friday to a man who was allegedly framed for murder by three former Chicago Police Department officers in 1988.

Jacques Rivera filed the lawsuit against former CPD detective Reynaldo Guevara, two other detectives and the City of Chicago, alleging that the officers manipulated a key witness who was only 12 years old.

Rivera was exonerated in 2011 for the 1988 murder of 16-year-old Felix Valentin when that witness recanted. He had served 21 years in prison.

"The truth will eventually prevail," Rivera said. "You can't suppress the truth."

Jon Loeby, Rivera's attorney, said although they were seeking $42 million in damages, he considers the verdict fair and appropriate.

"It's really one of the largest verdicts in the history of the United States," Loeby said. "...It is almost 30 years after he has been arrested, and not only has been vindicated, but he has been compensated fairly for what he suffered."

Rivera said that the case was not about the money, but the others who are imprisoned for crimes they did not commit.

"You are going to be paying a whole lot more out of your pocket if the city don't start changing these policies, holding these officers accountable," Rivera said.

The jury ordered Guevara and the other detectives to pay $175,000 in damages out of their own pockets. The city still has the right to appeal.

Lawyers with the city say they are disappointed in the verdict and they are evaluating their options.

Rivera plans to celebrate the verdict with his family and to use some of the money to help his community.
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