Exclusive: Murdered Cook County Jail inmate was locked in cell with violent rival gang member, source says

Pedro Ruiz is seen in a Chicago Police Department mugshot after his arrest on Jan. 29, 2020. | CPD

The 19-year-old accused murderer who was beaten to death in his Cook County Jail cell over the weekend was locked in a two-man cell with a violent member of a rival gang, according to a source within the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

Exactly how Pedro Ruiz, a Latin Saint gang member, managed to get locked up in a two-man cell with a rival Satan Disciple gang member who’s suspected of multiple murders, remains a bit of a mystery. The Saints and SD’s are embroiled in a bloody street war, according to a police source.

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The Cook County Sheriff’s Office declined to answer any questions from CWBChicago about the murder or the jail’s intake screening procedures citing the ongoing murder investigation.

About one year ago, the sheriff’s office announced that it would no longer use its gang database and said it had plans to “terminate” the tool after politicians and activists called for its destruction.

Exactly what has happened to the database since then is not known. And the sheriff’s office is not being forthcoming with any answers in the wake of Ruiz’s death.

Jail officials said last year that its staff “will continue to interview detainees upon intake at Cook County Jail to gather information which assists in classification of them and enhances the security of staff and detainees.”

Are arriving inmates asked about their gang affiliations and then assigned accordingly? The sheriff’s office declined to say on Monday.

Ruiz was arrested on Jan. 29 and charged with first degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. CPD records show that he was transferred from police custody to the county sheriff sometime after 8:30 a.m. on Friday. He appeared in bond court on Friday afternoon and was then moved to the Cook County Jail for intake.

Less than 12 hours later, Ruiz was found unresponsive in his cell with significant head trauma at 1:55 a.m. Saturday. His cellmate, who has not yet been named publicly, was handcuffed and relocated within the jail.

The Cook County Medical Examiner on Sunday declared Ruiz’s death a homicide resulting from “multiple injuries” and “beating.”

As of Monday night, no one had been charged with Ruiz’s murder.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com