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Bond set at $500K for North Chicago cop charged in fatal drunken-driving crash

North Chicago Police Officer Terrell Garrett

North Chicago Police Officer Terrell Garrett

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Updated: April 19, 2013 6:25AM

A judge set bond at $500,000 for a North Chicago police officer charged in a crash that killed two men on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

Police say off-duty officer Terrell Garrett, 35, was driving drunk in the wrong direction at more than 60 miles an hour in a 45-mile-an-hour zone.

Garrett is charged with two counts each of reckless homicide and aggravated DUI in the deaths of Joaquin Garcia, 25, and his friend Fabian Torres, 27.

Relatives of the victims said Garrett should not have been granted bond.

“I believe he should be in jail,” said Julian Garcia, uncle of Joaquin Garcia.

Torres’ mother, Asuncion Torres, said: “It is so unnatural for a mother to have to bury her child.”

Torres spoke publicly for the first time Sunday, saying “I needed time to heal,” before she could speak. Of the suspect, she said, “At least he has his life.”

Authorities said Garrett’s blood-alcohol level was 0.184, more than twice the legal limit. Garrett is in the hospital with a broken left hip.

On Saturday, Garcia’s mother, Cecilia Garcia, said: “I’m angry ... There’s no way he can get away with this,” said.

Garrett’s speeding Chevy also hit a Toyota Scion, but the 50-year-old woman driving that car survived.

Garcia said the news that authorities blame a police officer for the deadly collision makes things “10 times” worse for her.

“He’s supposed to be protecting us,” she said outside Torres’ apartment on West 21st Street. “My son did not deserve to die this way.”

Garcia, who flew in from her home in Florida, said her son, the eldest of her four, was studying to be a surgical technician and set to graduate in May from Malcolm X College, with plans to go on to the University of Illinois at Chicago for a bachelor’s degree and hopes of one day being a doctor or nurse.

“We were supposed to be going to my brother’s graduation in a month,” said Joaquin Garcia’s sister, also named Cecilia. “Now, we’re planning his funeral.”

“He had a plan in life,” the young man’s mother said. “I just wanted my kids to have a better life.”

Joaquin Garcia, who was raised in Elgin and went to Elgin High School, loved movies and music and had earned honors at Malcolm X, his mother said. He’d recently lost his father to cancer.

Torres was a freshman at DePaul University, a DePaul spokeswoman said.

Garrett was immediately relieved of his police powers and placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the Chicago Police Department investigation, North Chicago Police Chief James Jackson said in a written statement.

“While it is important to note that (the officer) was off-duty at the time of the accident, we have absolutely no tolerance for officers whose actions fall outside the very laws they are asked to enforce,” Jackson said.

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