A federal jury on Wednesday awarded no damages to the family of a South Side man who was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer during a traffic stop in January 2011.
Darius Pinex, 27, was shot by Chicago Police Department Officer Raoul Mosqueda in the early morning hours of Jan. 7, 2011. The shooting took place at 67th and May streets, in the South Side neighborhood of Englewood.[pullquote]There is a Reddit discussion about the case. [/pullquote]
Pinex’s mother, Gloria, sought up to $10 million in damages on behalf of her son’s estate. Around $5 million was to be awarded to Darius Pinex’s three daughters.
The eight-member jury deliberated about seven hours over two days before returning the verdict.
Mathew Colyer, a passenger in Pinex’s vehicle who said he was shot in the hand during the traffic stop, was also denied compensation.
According to court testimony, Mosqueda and his partner, Gildardo Sierra, pulled over Pinex’s green Oldsmobile at 1:30 a.m. on Jan 7 after Mosqueda identified the car as matching the description of a vehicle involved in an earlier shooting.
Mosqueda testified he heard the description from a police dispatcher, but a recording of the radio call presented in court showed the description given by the dispatcher did not match that of Pinex’s car.
During closing arguments, attorneys for Colyer and Pinex’s estate all but accused the officers of lying during their testimony in an effort to make themselves look innocent.
The attorneys described Sierra and Mosqueda’s testimonies as laughable.
Steve Fine, the attorney for Pinex’s estate, painted a terrifying picture of what happened to Pinex and Colyer the night of the shooting.
Fine said the officers’ behavior was overly aggressive and they manufactured a hostile situation when they pulled their squad car in front of Pinex’s Oldsmobile. He said Sierra and Mosqueda put on masks to conceal their identities, then jumped out of the car screaming with their guns pointed at Pinex and Colyer.
“The officers created a war zone,” said attorney Robert Johnson, who represented Colyer.
Fine argued that any reasonable person would be frightened in such a situation.
The attorneys said Pinex and Colyer were obeying the officers’ orders when Sierra and Mosqueda inexplicably opened fire.
“Colyer was doing what he was told to do. He was getting out of the car,” Fine said.
Fine said Colyer heard one of the officers say, “I wish your fat ass would’ve run. I would have shot you too.”
The attorney for the officers, Jordan Marsh, senior counsel for the city, painted a different picture of the shooting.
Marsh said Pinex was drunk and had a gun stowed under his seat — though neither Sierra nor Mosqueda said they knew about the gun before they opened fire.
“[Pinex] was impaired, he was intoxicated, he had a gun under his seat,” Marsh said. “These facts don’t change.”
Marsh said both officers shot at the vehicle “independently” because they were scared for their lives.
Marsh also cast doubt on Colyer’s version of events, which Marsh said repeatedly changed during the investigation and trial.
“If there was a story that made sense, Mr. Colyer would have told it,” Marsh said.
Marsh reminded the jury it is the plaintiff’s burden to prove what happened and as Marsh ended his argument, he looked at the plaintiffs and said, “Sorry, you just didn’t prove your case.”
Within six months of Pinex’s death, Sierra was involved in two other shootings.
In one of those incidents, a dashboard camera in Sierra’s police vehicle showed Sierra firing three shots into the back of a South Side man, Flint Farmer, as he was lying on the ground. Sierra claimed to have mistaken a cellphone held by Farmer for a gun.
The city settled a federal lawsuit brought by Farmer’s estate for $4.1 million.
Sierra was cleared of all charges in that case but he was stripped of his police powers and placed on paid desk duty.
Mosqueda, meanwhile, remains on active duty.