‘We want justice’

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Noticias Locales

Asuncion Torres (right) cries over the loss of her son Fabian Torres and urges North Chicago police officer Terrell Garrett be held accountable without “special treatment.”

An outpouring of support enveloped mothers Asuncion Torres and Cecilia Garcia Monday night as they held a candlelight vigil on the corner of 26th and Pulaski in memory of their sons Fabian Torres and Joaquin Garcia, who were killed last Friday on Lake Shore Drive.

“I want justice,” cried Asuncion Torres to a crowd of reporters. “I haven’t even looked at my son’s pictures. I haven’t even looked at the wreckage of the crash. I don’t want to even think about what he went through. I just want justice.”

Fabian Torres, 27, and Joaquin Garcia, 25, were killed in a car crash last Friday when North Chicago police officer Terrell Garrett struck their vehicle driving the wrong way on Lake Shore Drive. When interviewed by police, Garrett admitted to drinking earlier that night with friends for his 35th birthday. According to reports, Garrett’s blood-alcohol content was more than two times over the legal limit.

Garrett was charged on Saturday with two counts of aggravated DUI and two counts of reckless homicide. On Sunday, Cook County Judge James Brown gave Garrett a $500,000 dollar bond and ordered Garrett be electronically monitored until the trial, which angered family of the victims accusing Judge Brown and the police department of being discriminatory and lenient.

“Had I done this, had she done this [pointing to Garcia], had anyone else in our community done this, they would have been locked up, not under house arrest! This is wrong,” said Torres. Garrett has been a North Chicago police officer since 2008. Since Friday’s fatal accident, North Chicago Police Chief James Jackson has placed Garrett on administrative leave. “He [Garrett] gets to go home to his daughter. He gets to go home to his family, but my son will never come home. He will never walk through those doors,” said Garcia. “I am outraged. Instead of planning my son’s graduation party, I now have to plan his funeral arrangements.” Garcia’s son, Joaquin was close to graduating from Malcolm X College’s surgical technician program. Torres’ son, Fabian was a freshman at DePaul University.

Both mothers were angered over the fact that Garrett was offered bail claiming police officers should not be “held above the law” or given special treatment. “It is not fair that everyone is saying this is okay,” said Torres. “It’s not fair that the State Attorney is saying this is okay. Not one person from the city or state level has called us to ask how we are doing. Instead, they have harassed me and Mrs. Garcia. They have insulted us and we are here to say enough is enough. We want Officer Garrett to be held accountable.”

Also at the vigil were siblings of Joaquin Garcia who expressed sadness over the loss of their brother. “It’s important we hold this vigil to demonstrate the hurt this community feels over the loss of these individuals who had goals, who had dreams,” said Cecilia Garcia, sister of Joaquin Garcia. “It is so sad that my son will never know his uncle because of Garrett’s mindless act. It’s just sad. I’ll never see my brother.”

With signs that read, “Happy Birthday Killer” and “We want justice,” Torres and Garcia, who never met prior to the bond hearing on Sunday, intend to seek out justice for their sons. “I am prepared to fight. I will be that advocate because things have to change,” said Torres. When asked what message they had for Garrett, Garcia simply replied, ‘he took away my son. That man doesn’t deserve my words.”

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