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EDITORIAL: Cops taking the Fifth is discouraging sight for Chicago

Former Chicago police Detective Reynaldo Guevara. | Sun-Times files

Wasn’t it just last month that we expressed dismay at the sight of a Chicago cop and a retired Chicago cop both taking the Fifth Amendment on the same day to avoid incriminating themselves?


Wasn’t it just last month that we called that a sad commentary on the Chicago Police Department? We said it served as a grim reminder that top-to-bottom reform of the department must continue full bore.

Well, add to that a disturbing sight on Wednesday afternoon at the Criminal Courts Building in Chicago. Did you catch the news story? Cook County prosecutors dropped charges in a murder retrial because five former Chicago police officers said through their attorneys that they would take the Fifth Amendment if called to testify.

Let’s think about that for a minute. An accused killer is walking free because five former cops — who were paid to investigate and testify — won’t talk in court.

Yes, the case is complicated. It is tied to disgraced former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara, who is accused of framing dozens of Latino men for murder and who is one of the five ex-cops who planned to take the Fifth. The defendant, Jose Maysonet, says Guevara beat him with a flashlight and a phone book, coercing his confession to the 1990 fatal shootings of brothers Torrence and Kevin Wiley.

And, yes, the lawyers for the former police officers undoubtedly advised them that taking the Fifth was the wisest legal strategy. All five former officers had worked on or supervised the investigation.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office firmly believed that Maysonet is guilty of the double murder. It’s just that now, because the former cops refuse to testify, the state can’t meet its burden of proof.

We don’t know if Maysonet is guilty, but we sure think that’s a call that should have been made by a jury or a judge.

Instead, five ex-cops killed the pursuit of justice.

And now Maysonet walks.

So much for that business about “serve and protect.”

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