Family of slain Chicago police officer wants the governor and mayor to stay away from his funeral: reports

CHICAGO — As a nationwide search for the man accused of murdering Chicago Police Officer Luis Huesca continues, his family is asking Mayor Brandon Johnson and Gov. JB Pritzker to stay away from his funeral today, according to three reports and the Illinois State Comptroller.

Mary Ann Ahern of NBC5 and Courtney Spinelli of WGN-TV both shared that information on Twitter, citing sources. Ahern said the governor would honor the family’s request.

The reports both said Huesca’s family shared their wishes with Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza when she attended the officer’s wake on Sunday. Mendoza confirmed on Monday morning that she and Rep. Angelica Guerrero Cuellar (22nd) relayed the information to Johnson personally.

As of 10:30 p.m. Sunday, his public schedule still included attending the funeral. Mendoza tweeted on Monday, “It is not too late to honor Fallen Officer Huesca by respecting his mother’s wishes. 🙏🏻” Johnson has claimed that he did not attend a police press conference on the morning of Huesca’s murder because he was meeting with grieving family members.

Shortly before 9 a.m. Monday, Johnson’s office announced that he would honor the family’s request, too.

Luis Huesca (Chicago Police Department)

Spinelli also reported that the head of COPA, Andrea Kersten, who recently raised eyebrows by going on a whirlwind media tour upon the release of the Dexter Reed videos, appeared at Huesca’s wake and was asked to leave.

Chicago Contrarian was the first to report on the family’s wishes regarding Johnson and Pritzker as well as Kersten’s exit from the wake.

With Huesca’s murder coming just days after the Reed video release, many people have been drawing comparisons between how politicians reacted to the two cases.

Reed reportedly fired 11 shots at Chicago police officers during a traffic stop, striking one in the arm, and was then killed by four other officers who returned fire.

Here’s a look at how some Chicago aldermen chose to address the shootings in their weekly newsletters and constituent emails. Some interesting choices were made:

Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st), in an April 12 newsletter headlined “Statement on the Fatal Police Shooting of Dexter Reed,” wrote:

I wanted to take a moment to address the death of Dexter Reed. The tragic and complicated circumstances that led to his death require thoughtful and considerate investigation, and I await the completion of COPA’s investigation. What we do know clearly is that Mr. Reed’s confrontation with the police was the result of a pretextual traffic stop for allegedly failing to wear a seatbelt. Like tens of thousands of Black residents and hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans, he was pulled over for a low level non-moving violation that escalated into violence that injured an officer and took his life.

La Spata did not mention Huesca’s murder in his latest weekly newsletter, which was headlined “Statement on the Bears’ Stadium Proposal.”

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) has not mentioned the Dexter Reed case in his emails to constituents. However, “Honoring Chicago Police Officer Luis Huesca” was the first topic in his weekly newsletter last Monday, the day after the officer’s death. Hopkins wrote:

I am deeply saddened by the death of Chicago Police Officer Luis Huesca, who was shot to death in an apparent carjacking this past weekend. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and fellow members of the Chicago Police Department as we mourn his passing. 

His service to the city will never be forgotten. I am hopeful that those responsible will be brought to justice. 

Similarly, Ald. Scott Waugespack has not mentioned the Reed case, but he addressed Huesca’s murder in the first paragraph of his weekly newsletter last Monday:

Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family of City of Chicago Police Officer Luis Huesca, who was gunned down this weekend as he returned from his shift with the Chicago Police Department. CPD believes this was a carjacking of Officer Huesca as he returned home at about 2:55 a.m. following his shift.

8th District officers were alerted to the shooting by Shotspotter detectors in the area and located Officer Huesca who was suffering from gunshot wounds. He was still in uniform, but his gun and his police badge were stolen along with his personal vehicle. He was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center where he died from his gunshot wounds. Investigators are still looking for the suspect and in the latest release of information, a photo of a person of interest wanted in the shooting is posted below. CWB posted an update early Sunday morning as information came in from the shooting in the 8th District. Cook County CrimeStoppers posted a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrests of the people responsible for Officer Huesca’s death. Anonymous tips can be provided at 1-800-535-STOP.

Last March, at the funeral of Chicago Police Officer Andres Vasquez-Lasso, Officer Huesca recorded this video speaking about his friend, police academy classmate and fellow CPD officer who was killed while responding to a call for service in Gage Park. The murder of Officer Huesca is a solemn reminder of the sacrifice men and women in the the CPD make each day when they put on the uniform, not knowing if they’ll come home safe to their families at the end of their shift. We send our heartfelt gratitude to the officers of the Chicago Police Department who are mourning the loss of Officer Huesca, a six year veteran of the CPD.

Ald. Bill Conway (34th) has not mentioned Reed in his emails, but he opened his Friday newsletter by addressing Huesca’s murder:

On Sunday morning, Luis Huesca, an off-duty police officer, was tragically killed as he was returning home in Gage Park after his shift. My thoughts are with his loved ones at this difficult time.

The Chicago Police Department released a video of an individual believed to be involved in this shooting, which can be found here. If you have information, contact the Area One Detective Division at 312-747-8380 or submit an anonymous tip here.

Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) began addressing the Reed case in the third paragraph of his April 12 newsletter, immediately after details of a paper-shredding event.

Alderperson Vasquez Statement Regarding Dexter Reed’s Death and Investigation

I write this after having spent a number of days reflecting on the information that was made public regarding the death of Dexter Reed at the hands of the Chicago Police Department.

Anytime the actions of the police lead to the death of a civilian, it is incumbent on us as leaders to investigate. In watching the footage and reading the reports, I am left with more questions than answers: about why Dexter Reed was pulled over to begin with, why protocol does not appear to have been followed with regard to the officers identifying themselves, and most of all, why such an excessive level of force was used in response. While the initial shots appear to have come from Dexter Reed’s vehicle, the level of response was nonetheless disturbing and painful to watch—that so many shots were fired at one person in such a short amount of time, and that a number of them appear to have been shot as his body was lying motionless on the ground.

Let me be clear: shooting at a police officer—shooting at anyone—is wrong, and there is no excuse for it. We can hold all of these truths at once: that shooting a police officer is inexcusable, along with the fact that the stop itself may have violated his rights and that the use of force in response was excessive and should be investigated.

At the end of the day, all of us want to be able to get home safely and unharmed. I am deeply grieved that a purported traffic stop resulted in a family losing a son and a brother, and an officer being injured. I feel deeply for the family of Dexter Reed and offer my condolences as a Councilmember, as a father, and as someone who has lost a brother to gun violence. I also hope for a swift recovery for the officer who was injured.

As we learn more from the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, we will hopefully gain a better understanding as to what led to this, and what accountability may be necessary in order to bridge the trust gap between communities and those who are tasked with serving and protecting them.

This incident also highlights a number of complex and conflicting realities that our government has yet to properly address: the proliferation of guns in our neighborhoods, along with the fact that in many neighborhoods where violence is rampant, neighbors may feel the need to carry a gun to protect themselves. The need to address violent crime, along with the fact that the transition from beat officers and community policing to roving tactical units has resulted in increased and unconstitutional pretextual traffic stops that target Black and Brown people (as recently as April 4th, WTTW covered the release of a report that shows that officers pull over Black drivers six times more often than they do white drivers, and Latino neighbors twice as often).

As we learn more and as we do more to address these issues, I urge all of us to look past our initial reactions and be willing to ask difficult questions, hold the humanity of our neighbors at the forefront of our thoughts and decision-making.

Vasquez raised Huesca’s murder in the 11th and final paragraph of his weekly letter to constituents on Friday:

Lastly, I was deeply saddened by the loss of Officer Luis Hesca [sic], who tragically lost his life in the line of duty this past Sunday. There will be a Chicago Police District funeral procession this coming Monday, which will be coming through our area at around 3pm, as he will be buried at Rosehill Cemetery. My heart is with his family, friends, and his fellow officers at the 5th District as they grieve this devastating loss.

Vasquez sent a follow-up email on Saturday apologizing for misspelling Huesca’s name and explaining how the officers’ funeral procession would impact traffic in the ward.

Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd), representing much of Lincoln Park, has not mentioned the Reed case. He opened his April 26 newsletter with a three-paragraph letter, then mentioned Huesca’s murder as a postscript:

In Memoriam: Last weekend, a 30 year old off-duty police officer named Luis Huesca was tragically killed as he returned home to Gage Park after a shift. Flags are at half-staff as our City honors and mourns Luis, and my prayers are with Luis’ loved ones during this difficult time.

Ald. Maria Hadden (49th), who represents much of Rogers Park, took the most unusual approach. She addressed Reed’s death on Friday, five days after Huesca’s murder, yet she never offered any thoughts regarding the slain officer. This was the sixth topic of her newsletter:

Alderwoman Hadden Signs Letter Calling to End Pretextual Traffic Stops

Following the tragic and preventable death of Dexter Reed, Alderwoman Hadden signed onto a letter calling for an end to pretextual traffic stops in Chicago.

A pretextual traffic stop is a stop initiated by law enforcement for a minor traffic violation, such as not wearing a seatbelt. These stops have ulterior motives, however, such as searching for evidence of another unrelated crime.

According to a 2023 report from Impact for Equity and the Free2Move Coalition, the Chicago Police Department has dramatically increased the number of pretextual stops, even though these stops rarely lead to arrests or the discovery of weapons and/or drugs. In 2023, only 3.7% of all stops resulted in a citation, and just 2.2% of all traffic stops resulted in an arrest. Furthermore, only 0.5% of traffic stops resulted in the recovery of a gun, and 0.3% resulted in the discovery of narcotics.

According to the same report, Black and Latine drivers are disproportionately stopped for these minor violations than their white counterparts. The 11th police district, where Dexter Reed was pulled over, had the highest number of traffic stops, accounting for over 10% of all traffic stops across the city. The neighboring 10th district had the second highest number of traffic stops at 8.8%. Despite being home to only 6.7% of the city’s population, these two districts account for more than 20% of all of Chicago’s traffic stops. 96% of individuals living in these two districts are either Black or Latine.

Police have the ability and authority to pull over individuals where there is reasonable suspicion that a person has committed a crime, such as a robbery or a carjacking. In those cases, police can make an investigatory stop for reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Ending pretextual stops would not strip police of this ability. It would simply mean that police could not use a minor traffic violation that does not present a public safety risk to fish for evidence of another crime.

The use of pretextual traffic stops continues to chip away at relationships and trust between the police and the communities they serve. Ending the practice of pretextual stops can help to restore those relationships while protecting our communities and the officers that serve them.

Ald. Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth (48th) has not addressed the Reed case. On Saturday, she sent the following “community alert” about Huesca’s funeral procession without expressing any thoughts about his death:

We have been informed that CPD will have a mile long funeral procession around 3pm on Monday, April 29th, for the recently fallen officer, Luis Huesca. The procession is expected to drive westbound on Bryn Mawr from DuSable Lake Shore Drive to Ravenswood where the officer will be buried at Rosehill Cemetery.

There will be parking restrictions along the route on Monday. If you usually park along this route, please make sure that you move your car by Monday morning, otherwise you may be towed. Cars parked along this route on Monday afternoon will be towed to the Foster Ave and Wilson Beach parking lots.

The funeral procession will likely impact dismissal at Peirce Elementary and traffic around the school. Please plan accordingly, allowing yourself extra time. Peirce families may want to consider walking to the school if able, or use Gregory going west if arriving during the procession.

Neither Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) nor Ald. Bennett Lawson (44th) mentioned Reed or Huesca in their constituent emails. Reilly represents much of River North while Lawson’s ward covers most of Lakeview

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:14 a.m. with Mendoza’s personal comments and at 9:01 a.m. with Johnson’s decision.

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About CWBChicago 6713 Articles
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