3 Chicago cops who died fighting COVID-19 to be officially declared dead after almost a year


This holiday season is a difficult one for Liz Huerta. “It’s starting to evoke all these emotions again,” she told the Tribune.

Eleven months ago, my husband, Jose “Joey” Huerta, a police officer in Chicago for more than 20 years, died of acute respiratory failure, pneumonia and COVID-19.

Huerta and two other Chicago police officers were granted official death status last week after each suffered fatal complications from COVID-19.

“It was hard. It was hard explaining to the kids why their mom didn’t have the answers. So when I got this news, my kids and I thought he was honored as he is now.” I am happy to have been given it,” said Liz Huerta.

A Chicago Police Department spokesman confirmed Tuesday that the deaths of Huerta and fellow officers James Svek and Joseph Tripoli were ruled on duty, but did not elaborate on the cause of the delay in their designation.COVID The deaths of at least four other officers by -19 are considered on-duty, whose names are Added on the department’s memorial wall last fall.

This designation provides special financial benefits for the officers’ families. The beneficiary will receive the deceased officer’s annual salary for one year of her, and her spouse and her children under the age of 26 will be entitled to medical benefits until approval is obtained from the city council.

From there, the officers’ families are eligible to receive officers’ pensions, pending approval from the city’s Police Pension Fund. A CPD spokesperson said the death benefit will come from city, state and federal sources. A spokesperson for the city’s budget office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what their families were entitled to.

Family photo including Officer Jose "Joey" Huerta was on display during our visit last December 28th.

Officer Huerta was the family’s main breadwinner. His death resulted in huge financial losses, his wife said. She was working part-time when he died. She was able to transition from part-time to full-time at her current job and take out her own, friends and even strangers Donate over $60,000 GoFundMe to help families.

“They told me that the insurance would be reactivated, but they actually sat down and explained what the benefits would be if he was assigned to the line of duty. not”.

Svec started working in the police department in March 2001 and died on December 8, 2021 at the age of 59. Tripoli said he worked for CPD from July 1994 until his death on January 3rd of this year at the age of 53. Joey Huerta enlisted from February 2000 until two days before Christmas last year. Huerta was 50 when he died.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown receives a U.S. flag from Honor Guard Michael Ostrovsky during the unveiling of five police officers' names at Chicago's Gold Star Family Memorial Park on September 9, 2021. , presented to the family of the fallen police officer. Four of his officers died in 2020 from complications related to COVID-19.

Huerta’s family and the Chicago Police Fraternity fought to classify his death as an official one. “Joey was a fine police officer. “To politicize whether COVID was responsible for[his death]is… totally wrong. They should fully respect him as a police officer.”

Local FOP president John Catanzara, who released the classification of the three officers in a recent video, said, “It’s pathetic that it took almost a year,” and that it “should have been done all along.”

Catanzara said the classification would not have taken place without pressure from the police union, saying, “We have asked the city’s negotiating team to provide legal advice to these three families and sue the city, embarrassing and correcting them.” We have made it very clear that we intend to do that.” thing if we had to.

A CPD spokesman declined to comment on whether union pressure had influenced the classification.

According to Liz Huerta, the city “never reached out to me as to why it was taking so long,” but Catanzara “knew what was going on.” I’m here. Catanzara also arranged bagpipes at funerals and gave “as many see-offs as police officers” who died in the line of duty, she said.

COVID-19 related deaths was the main cause death in the line of duty of an officer 2020 And in 2021, according to the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum.

Angelica Green outlines the etched name of her cousin, Chicago Police Field Training Officer Titus Moore, at last year's name unveiling ceremony at the Gold Star Families Memorial and Park. Moore is one of four police officers who have died from COVID-19 symptoms in 2020.

FOP leaders and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have battled for months over making Lightfoot’s vaccine mandatory for city employees. Eventually, According to WTTW analysisthe city exempted more than 1,750 department members from mandates and did not fire officers for noncompliance.

According to his wife, Joey Huerta missed “birthdays, softball tournaments” and other family events while working in the department. “Just knowing he got this honor, my kids will hold their heads up and know that my dad was a proud police officer and that the city finally did the right thing. We are all proud of that.”


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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