Jacques Rivera

Innocent Man Sues Chicago Cops, City of Chicago After Serving 20 Years in Prison for Murder He Did Not Commit

Jacques Rivera, a 47-year-old Chicago resident who spent more than 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, filed a lawsuit on June 7 against the City of Chicago and Chicago police officers who conspired to convict him for first-degree murder despite the lack of any evidence.

According to the lawsuit filed in federal district court in Chicago, former police detectives from Area Five manipulated a 12-year-old witness, Orlando Lopez, into identifying Rivera as the murderer of Felix Valentin.

Throughout his 20-year incarceration, Rivera tirelessly maintained his innocence. In 2010, the Northwestern University Center on Wrongful Convictions filed a petition on Rivera's behalf, alleging his innocence. An evidentiary hearing was held, and Orlando Lopez testified that he had falsely identified Rivera more than 20 years before. On September 13, 2011, the Cook County Circuit Court overturned Rivera's conviction, and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office dismissed charges against Rivera.

"Jacques Rivera has suffered a grave injustice at the hands of Chicago police who manipulated a young boy, falsified evidence and exhibited utter indifference to the truth," said Locke Bowman, one of Rivera's attorneys and director of the Roderick MacArthur Justice Center. "This is a pattern within the Chicago Police Department. Since 1986, there are at least 67 documented cases in which the CPD's actions led to wrongful convictions. The Police Department has never investigated any of these cases or disciplined an officer despite clear, egregious misconduct in many of these cases. That's simply unacceptable."

The suit seeks damages for the trauma inflicted on Rivera as a result of these acts, which violated his civil rights, stole his freedom, and deprived him of more than 20 years with his wife and three children.

Press release (pdf)

Chicago Tribune story

Updated - 06/12/2012