Lawyers for a South Side man who was fatally shot by Chicago Police urged a federal jury to award his family up to $10 million Tuesday, arguing that the cop who fired the deadly shots was caught lying on the stand.
Father-of-three Darius Pinex, 27, was killed when a traffic stop went badly wrong in the early hours of Jan. 7, 2011.
Dramatic evidence in the form of a police radio transmission — which Chicago Police shared with Pinex’s lawyers only last week, after a civil trial of Pinex’s death had already begun — cast serious doubt on the story of the officer who fired the deadly shots, Raoul Mosqueda.
Mosqueda had long argued that he and his partner, Gildardo Sierra, pulled over Pinex’s Oldsmobile because it matched the description given over the police radio of a car used in a shooting earlier that night. He repeated that version of his story on the stand last week, telling jurors the description on the radio described a green car with aftermarket rims, just like Pinex’s.
But a recording of the radio transmission, found and played for jurors after Mosqueda testified showed that the dispatcher made no reference to the car’s color, wheels — or any shooting or possible armed occupants.
“This case is about a senseless death,” the lawyer for the Pinex family, Steven Fine, told the jury of four white men, two black men and two white women as he made his closing arguments Tuesday at the end of a weeklong trial. After three hours of deliberation, jurors went home Tuesday night without reaching a verdict.
The officers “knew they had no reason to stop that car,” he added. “They had no reason to point their guns and they killed Darius Pinex for no reason and lied about it.”
The tape of the radio call, Fine said, proved Mosqueda lied. He read aloud an instruction U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang gave jurors last week in which the judge told them the city should have turned over the recording sooner.
Representing the officers, City of Chicago lawyer Jordan Marsh said that Mosqueda, who was called back to the stand on Friday, now knows he “was wrong” to believe that Pinex’s vehicle had been involved in an earlier shooting.
But Marsh said that Mosqueda and Sierra — who also fired several shots — were in fear of their lives after Pinex allegedly tried to escape during the traffic stop, adding that they should not be judged for “maybe 12 seconds on that cold dark Chicago night.”
Evidence showed that Pinex reversed, hit a tree and a lamp post, then began moving forward again while the officers fired at him at the corner of Racine and Marquette.
Lawyers for Pinex and his passenger, Matthew Colyer, who survived what he says was a bullet wound to the hand, say Sierra “panicked” and opened fire because he misinterpreted Colyer’s attempt to undo his seatbelt as an attempt to grab a weapon.
They say Pinex tried to escape only after the cops started shooting.
But the officers say Pinex was putting their lives and Colyer’s at risk. AndMarsh said a gun recovered from under a seat in Pinex’s car explained why Pinex, who had been drinking, was so keen to flee.
He pointed to significant discrepancies in Colyer’s account of the incident over the last four years, including his initial claim that Pinex had not tried to flee the scene.
“If there was a story that made sense, Mr. Colyer would have told you it, wouldn’t he?” Marsh said.
But lawyer Steven Greenberg, who also represents Pinex’s family, pointed at the officers and their lawyers and said the city’s handling of the “missing” radio recording showed, “You can’t trust anything that comes from over there!”
Rulings handed down ahead of the trial mean jurors have not learned that Sierra was involved in two other shootings in Englewood soon after Pinex’s death. In the most recent incident, Sierra claimed to have mistaken a cellphone that Flint Farmer was holding for a gun before fatally shooting him three times in the back.
Though Sierra was not charged by the Cook County state’s attorney, the city agreed to settle that case with Farmer’s family for $4.1 million.