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Officer Ordered to Pay $15k to Gang Member

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    Officer Ordered to Pay $15k to Gang Member The Chicago Tribune June 23, 2009 CHICAGO, IL – After spending more than 11 years in prison accused of murder,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 2009
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      Officer Ordered to Pay $15k to Gang Member

      The Chicago Tribune


      June 23, 2009
      CHICAGO, IL – After spending more than 11 years in prison accused of
      murder, Juan Johnson won the largest award in Chicago history for a wrongful
      conviction lawsuit on Friday.
      But even though the City of Chicago was ordered to pay him $21 million in
      compensatory damages, Johnson said he wasn’t looking for more money from the
      police officer he said framed him. All he wanted was an apology.
      Johnson didn’t get one on Monday, however, and so Reynaldo Guevara, a
      former Chicago police officer who says he’s living paycheck to paycheck, now
      owes Johnson $15,000 in punitive damages himself.
      “He could have picked a side — protect [himself] or apologize,” said Jon
      Loevy, Johnson’s attorney. “If he had expressed remorse, we wouldn’t have
      asked for anything.”
      In 1989, Johnson, then a member of the Spanish Cobras gang, was arrested by
      Guevara and accused of murdering a member of rival gang, the Latin Eagles,
      outside a nightclub near North and Western Avenues.
      Johnson was convicted and served 11 1/2 years in prison before he was
      retried and acquitted in 2004. In that trial, witnesses testified that Guevara
      intimidated them into saying Johnson was the murderer.
      On Friday and Monday, a jury agreed that Johnson was wrongly arrested and
      that Guevara and the city were at fault.
      Though Johnson claimed that from the beginning, all he wanted was an
      apology, Guevara’s legal team objected, saying an apology could taint any chance
      of getting the decision reversed when they appeal.
      Guevara’s lawyer, Jim Sotos, said he thinks that witnesses changed their
      stories during Johnson’s retrial in 2004 because of gang intimidation.
      “We strongly believe there is an orchestrated effort by gang members that
      witnesses were told to recant” their testimonies during the retrial, Sotos
      said.
      Johnson maintains justice was served.
      “The evidence is there that he framed me,” he said. “It’s time the city
      starts taking responsibility for its actions.”
      In one testimony from the retrial, Samuel Perez, another Cobra, testified
      that Guevara had intimidated him into identifying Johnson as the killer.
      “[Guevara] told me that he knows that the Cobras killed that Eagle. Which
      Cobra, he didn’t care, but he preferred that it was this Cobra” and pointed
      at a picture of Johnson, Perez said. “I took it as a threat. … I was
      going to get hooked up for that murder or Juan Johnson was going to get hooked
      up for that murder.”
      The case is far from closed, however.
      Guevara and the city could file paperwork as soon as this week for an
      appeal.
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