Pay $5.5M to Man Who Spent 22 Years in Prison After Being Framed by Disgraced Ex-Detective, City Lawyers Recommend

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Chicago taxpayers should pay $5.5 million to a man who spent more than 22 years in prison after he was framed by a disgraced former Chicago police detective for a 1995 murder, city lawyers recommended.

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Ricardo Rodriguez was convicted after being investigated by Reynaldo Guevara, a former Chicago police detective accused of routinely framing suspects.

Rodriguez was exonerated in 2018 and released from prison in 2019. Rodriguez and 40 other Chicagoans who were convicted based on evidence gathered by Guevara have been exonerated by Illinois judges, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

Rodriguez was convicted of killing Rodney Kemppainen, a 38-year-old homeless man, on Dec. 15, 1995, near Hamlin and North avenues on Chicago’s Northwest Side.

Guevara testified that an anonymous tip led him to Rodriguez. The only witness against Rodriguez said he was coerced by Guevara into identifying Rodriguez. In 2016, a new witness came forward with information that could have proved Rodriguez was innocent.

Chicago taxpayers have paid $39.3 million to resolve three lawsuits since 2021 involving Guevara’s conduct, the most tied to a single officer identified by a WTTW News’ analysis of police misconduct cases resolved between 2019 and 2023.

In 2018, a jury ordered the city to pay $17 million to Jacques Rivera, who was convicted after being investigated by Guevara and spent 21 years in prison.

The proposed $5.5 million settlement is set to be considered Monday by the City Council’s Finance Committee. A final vote of the City Council could come on Wednesday.

If approved, the settlement of the case filed by Rodriguez would bring the total amount paid by Chicago taxpayers to resolve lawsuits naming Guevara to $62.5 million, records show. At least 11 other lawsuits naming Guevara are pending against the city, all from men who were convicted based on evidence gathered by Guevara and were later exonerated.

Guevara has declined to answer questions about allegations of misconduct in cases that have been overturned, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Guevara, who retired from the police department in 2005 and until 2015 worked for the Chicago Park District, earns two government pensions totaling $81,030 per year, according to an investigation by the Better Government Association.

Guevara has not been charged with a crime, and his pension could only be revoked by state officials if he is convicted of a crime.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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