Retired Chicago Detective Faces Wrongful Conviction Lawsuit

CHICAGO — A retired Chicago detective is going on trial Tuesday at the Dirksen Federal Building in a wrongful conviction lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims former Detective Reynaldo Guevara coerced a 12-year-old boy into falsely identifying Jacques Rivera as the gunman in a 1988 murder.

Rivera was released from prison seven-years ago after his conviction in the murder of 16-year-old Felix Valentin. Valentin was shot 10 times while sitting in a car on August 27, 1988. He died 18 days later.

Rivera is a former gang member who said he was framed by Guevara.

Rivera’s lawsuit claims Guevara coerced the only witness to the shooting. That witness was a 12-year-old boy, who has since recanted his testimony; he later said police coerced him into identifying Rivera as the killer and that investigators refused to listen to him when he was convinced he identified the wrong man.

Guevara faces accusations of running a corruption racket in the Humboldt Park neighborhood during his time on the police force. He’s been accused of pinning false murder cases on suspects, taking bribes and shaking down drug dealers for protection money.

According to the Associated Press, Chicago has paid out more than $650 million in police misconduct cases over the past 15 years or so. That expenditure is expected to increase yet more.

In recent months, a growing number of men who say they were framed for murders they didn’t commit or convicted on trumped up drug charges have seen their convictions overturned. And now they’re suing the city.

Eighteen men investigated by former Detective Reynaldo Guevara have had their convictions overturned. A further three dozen men arrested by former Sgt. Ronald Watts have had their cases tossed out.

Attorneys predict — and city officials worry — that these cases alone could cost the city tens of millions of dollars.