An alleged code of silence among Chicago police officers is being blamed for the deaths of two young men in a fiery crash on the Dan Ryan eight years ago.
The victim's families say a drunken police officer would have never been on the road if other cops hadn't covered for him over the years.
Eight years ago, Maria Velez described her anguish upon learning that her son, Fausto Mandera, and his friend Andrew Cazares had been killed in a fiery early morning crash on the Dan Ryan. They were changing a flat tire on the side of the expressway when a drunk, off-duty Chicago police officer, Joseph Frugoli, ran into their car, killing both of them.
On Thursday, Maria was in the courtroom as Frugoli --who's now in prison --took the witness stand and admitted to a lifetime of heavy drinking, including a binge before the fatal hit and run. He's already serving an eight-year sentence after pleading guilty regarding the fatal crash. His testimony today came in an unusual civil suit for wrongful death. The victim's families claim Frugoli would have been off the road, and off the police force, if a code of silence among Chicago cops hadn't covered up years of misdeeds.
On the witness stand, the family's attorneys questioned him about some 20 complaints against him while he was on the force, only one of which led to any disciplinary action.
Under questioning from the city's attorneys, Frugoli said that he never believed that he or any other cops are above the law. And he said he always believed there'd be consequences if he violated department rules or broke the law.
If jurors decide that a code of silence somehow contributed to Frugoli's dangerous behavior, the city could be facing a costly verdict.
Frugoli concluded his time on the stand Thursday. The trial is expected to last into next week.