CHICAGO (CBS) — A federal jury on Friday awarded $17 million in damages to a man who spent more than two decades behind bars for a murder he did not commit, and accused a notorious former Chicago police detective of framing him.
Jacques Rivera wept in court as the jury announced its verdict Friday afternoon. The later told reporters that others are in prison for crimes they didn’t commit and he urged justice for them. Rivera again began to cry as he spoke about his daughter who was only six months old when he was incarcerated.
His attorney called it one of the biggest wrongful conviction awards in U.S. history.
The verdict follows a three-week trial in a federal lawsuit Rivera filed against former Chicago Police Det. Reynaldo Guevara and the city. Rivera spent 21 years in prison for the murder of 16-year-old Felix Valentin before he was exonerated in 2011.
Rivera argued former Guevara framed him for the murder, and had sought $42 million in damages.
When Guevara was called to the stand earlier this month, he repeatedly refused to answer questions about the investigation that led to Rivera’s conviction. The former detective invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination more than 200 times.
Rivera has accused Guevara of coercing the sole eyewitness — a 12-year-old boy — to falsely identify him as the gunman in Valentin’s death in 1988. He is one of 18 men whose convictions have been tossed out of court amid allegations that Guevara coerced witnesses, beat suspects, and falsified police reports.
Guevara has repeatedly has refused to answer questions about allegations of misconduct in cases that have been overturned.
The city already has paid out $20 million to settle wrongful conviction lawsuits involving Guevara.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)