Man gets less than a year in prison for 2014 shooting involving now-dead cop

SHARE Man gets less than a year in prison for 2014 shooting involving now-dead cop
fernando_junior_lopez.jpg

Fernando “Fern” Lopez. | Cook County sheriff’s office

Fernando “Fern” Lopez was caught on film firing a gun into the air outside a River West nightclub in 2014. He was arrested that same night, after he was shot by an off-duty Cook County correctional officer. On Tuesday, a judge opted to give him less than a year in prison.

Cook County Circuit Judge Michael Claps sentenced Lopez to four years in prison Tuesday, but Lopez will be credited for the 1,142 days he has spent on electronic monitoring since he was arrested.

It was outside the Funky Buddha nightclub in November 2014 where Lopez fired a gun into the air to disperse a crowd after a traffic crash. An armed Cook County correctional officer, Michael Raines, heard the gunfire from a half block away and ran over. He shot Lopez, who was one of three men arrested in the shooting.

As he struggled to restrain Lopez, Raines aggravated an old back injury. With the stress of the shooting, compounded with the aggravated back injury, for which he was prescribed painkillers, Raines turned to heroin. Raines died of a fentanyl-laced heroin overdose less than a year after the shooting.

A Cook County state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman said Lopez pleaded guilty to aggravated discharge of a firearm.

He initially had been charged with attempted murder,aggravated assault to a peace officer, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and reckless discharge of a firearm.

Messages left with Lopez’s attorney were not returned. Raines’ family declined to comment.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported in June that, according to his family, stress caused by the shooting and reliance on painkillers eventually led to Raines’ death.

Cook County correctional officer Michael Raines died of an overdose less than a year after he risked his life to save others. | Facebook

Cook County correctional officer Michael Raines died of an overdose a year after he risked his life to save others. | Facebook

Just before 3 a.m. on Nov. 30, 2014, Lopez and Mario Orta — who police say were gang members — had left the Funky Buddha, less than a block away from Richard’s Bar, on Grand Avenue, with friends, according to police records.

As Lopez, Orta and a third man, Nathaniel Nunes, were driving in a car west on Grand, their Buick LaCrosse sideswiped a car outside the nightclub. When they tried to drive off, a crowd surrounded the car.

The three got out and Lopez and Nunes began to fire a handgun into the air to disperse the crowd, according to police records.

Raines was outside Richard’s, around the corner on Milwaukee Avenue, when he heard the gunfire. He ran over with his gun drawn, which held only six rounds, and identified himself as a police officer, according to police records. Lopez ignored Raines’ command to drop the gun and turned toward him, according to police records. Raines opened fire, striking him, and Lopez dropped the gun in the street.

Raines eventually caught up to Lopez — who was shot several times — on the north sidewalk of Grand. Orta picked up the gun and tried to shoot Raines, who was wrestling on the ground with Lopez, using him as a human shield.

In the surveillance footage obtained by the Sun-Times, Orta can be seen shooting at Raines at least twice.

The detectives said Orta shot at Raines several timesas he and Lopez were on the sidewalk. Raines wasn’t hit, but Lopez ended up with 10 gunshot wounds.

Last year, Orta was sentenced to 10 years in prison after reaching a plea deal. Nunes was sentenced to four years.

About a year after the shooting, Lopez filed a federal lawsuit against Raines’ estate and the sheriff’s office.That case is still pending.

The sheriff’s office interviewed the lead detective who investigated the shooting, and he commended Raines for heroism.

After the shooting, Raines developed “emotional issues,” his parents told detectives after his death.

In early September 2015, Raines checked himself into the rehab facility at St. Joseph Hospital in Lake View.

On Oct. 8, 2015, at 11 a.m., he was discharged. About an hour and a half later, he boarded a southbound No. 53 Pulaski Road bus at Chicago Avenue, according to CTA security footage reviewed by police. Less than an hour later, he was found dead on a CTA bus in Little Village.

The medical examiner’s office ruled he died of a fentanyl-laced heroin overdose.

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