COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Two killers convicted in the murder of Chicago Police Officer Alejandro "Alex" Valadez were both sentenced Wednesday to more than 100 years behind bars.
A Cook County judge sentenced Kevin Walker, charged as the getaway driver, to 120 years in prison, while Christopher Harris, who prosecutors accused of firing the shot that killed Valadez, got 105 years.
Valadez, who wanted to "make a difference" when he requested that he be transferred to an Englewood police district, was gunned down in 2009 by three men looking for vengeance, prosecutors said.
Someone on South Hermitage Avenue opened fire on two of them earlier in the day on June 1, 2009, prosecutors said. By the time they returned with reinforcements and armed "to the teeth," Valadez was on the scene investigating.
"It's possible they were trying to send a message about how dangerous they were," Judge Jorge Alonso said. "I have received their message."
Valadez, 27, and his partner were searching a vacant lot near 61st Street and Hermitage for evidence, possibly guns or shell casings, when he was cut down by gangbangers bent on revenge, prosecutors said.
"Officer Valadez became another grim statistic," said Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, who personally prosecuted the case last year. "The defendant became a murderer."
As Valadez was asking a man passing by whether he'd heard any shots, a car with three armed men came toward them, Alvarez said. Harris stuck a .357 revolver out the rear passenger window and opened fire, striking Valadez in his head and leg, authorities said.
Valadez never got to meet his son, born three months after he was killed, his sisters said Wednesday while testifying at the sentencing hearing.
Crying on the witness stand, they talked about what made Valadez want to become a cop: the murder of his older brother, and growing up amid constant violence in the Little Village neighborhood
"As kids, we would go to school tired because the gangbangers kept us up at night as they yelled or threw bottles at passing cars," said Brenda Valadez, who also became a police officer.
"We had bullet holes in our living room window and wall," she continued. "We saw so much crime; so many people shot and killed, blood on our sidewalks, things that children should never have to witness."
Walker and Harris, both 25, were convicted in October by separate juries.
Shawn Gaston, a third co-defendant, was convicted in the case in 2011 and is serving a 125-year prison sentence.