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Chicago: Victims of dirty cop challenge their convictions

By staff |
May 23, 2018
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Rally for Juan and Rosendo Herndandez.
Rally for Juan and Rosendo Herndandez. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Chicago, IL - Juan and Rosendo Herndandez have been prisoners for 21 years. The two brothers were falsely accused of a murder by the notorious Detective Reynaldo Guevara, once head of the Gang Crimes Unit in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, and his partner, Joe Miedzianowski, who was convicted years ago for running a drug ring out of the Grand and Central police station. Miedzianowski was out to get Juan Herndandez to protect his drug ring. With no physical evidence linking them to the crime, Guevara framed them by manipulating eye witnesses to pick them out of a lineup.

At 8 a.m. on Tuesday, May 22, their parents, Charlie and Esther Hernandez were outside the County Court at 26th and California, gathering with 30 family members, families of other victims of the Guevara gang, as well as other wrongfully convicted victims. They were there because lawyers for Juan and Rosendo filed court papers last month questioning Guevara’s police work. Guevara is accused of framing 56 people, mostly young Chicano, Puerto Rican and Black men, and at least one young Latina, for murder, over a 20-year period in the 1980s and 90s.

At least eight of Guevara’s convictions have been overturned in the past two years, with a growing number in the year and a half since the electoral defeat of disgraced State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. She was one of the top officials that went down when it was revealed in November 2015 that the Chicago Police Department, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Alvarez covered up the video of the police murder of Laquan McDonald.

During the rally, from inside the court house, Juan called his mother on the phone and talked with Fight Back!. Asked about the crisis of police accountability in Chicago, Juan Herndandez spoke about Scott Lassar, the former U.S. Attorney who was brought in by Emanuel to investigate the Guevara cases. Hernandez explained that Emanuel is not interested in holding Guevara or any of the police accountable. According to Hernandez, “In a Freedom Of Information Act request I made, I learned that Lassar’s true purpose wasn’t to seek justice, but only to limit the damages awarded by the city from lawsuits.”

In response, Fight Back! asked Hernandez about the legislation for an elected, civilian police accountability council (CPAC). Hernandez replied, “CPAC is our first priority. We have to put the power to hold the police accountable into the hands of the people.”