Family of Heriberto Godinez outraged that city won't release video of his death

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A man died in the custody of Chicago police officers, and his family is angry that the city is refusing to release police video of his death.

The family says the city's refusal to release the video suggests that little has changed since the Laquan McDonald case.

“It’s going to be horrifying, seeing my brother the way he passed, and how. But I believe that we all deserve answers,” said Janet Godinez.

Godinez's 26-year-old brother Heriberto died last summer after Chicago police took him into custody during a burglary investigation. Family members believe his death was caught on a police dashcam video. But for seven months now, while IPRA and prosecutors review the case, the city has declined to share that video with the family.

“They're passing my brother's video around and everybody else has a chance to see, and yet my family still has no idea what they did to him,” said sister Crystal Godinez.

Police said Godniez was "sweating heavily with labored breathing" after his arrest. An autopsy revealed he had cocaine and alcohol in his system, but the cause of death was undetermined. The family's attorney says he's spoken with individuals who have seen the video.

“We believe that the video will show one if not several officers using improper restraint upon Mister Godinez's neck, using excessive force against him while he was on the ground, and basically crushing him or suffocating him to death,” said attorney Jeffrey Granich.

“We're going to have to re-evaluate the policy on videos,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

In the midst of the LaQuan Mcdonald uproar, Mayor Emanuel appointed a task force to review the release of police videos. But Granich says he's had to file a lawsuit in this case because the city denied his Freedom of Information Act request.

“They have committed themselves to being more transparent, they've committed themselves to provding the public with this information, yet they're making the same arguments they made in the Mcdonald case,” Granich said.

“I mean, it will hurt me to see it, but I think it will bring some type of closure to our family. Because at this point we're still just kind of wondering, "What did they do?" Crystal Godinez added.

The city's has until the end of the month to respond to the family's lawsuit. The case goes in front of a judge on March 4.

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