[WATCH] Chicago Cop Gets Five Years in Federal Prison For Firing Barrage of Bullets at Teens

CHICAGO — A former Chicago police officer was sentenced to five years in federal prison Monday for using unreasonable force in an incident in which he unleashed a barrage of gunfire at a car full of teenagers.

The sentencing for Marco Proano, 42, comes after he was convicted in August of using unreasonable force and causing bodily injury when he fired into the stolen vehicle as it backed up after being stopped for speeding. Dashcam video of the incident from a police squad played a crucial role in Proano’s conviction.

The video of the 2015 incident in which Proano, a 11-year veteran of the police force, fired 16 times on the car of teens became public after The Chicago Reporter, a news organization that focuses on issues of race and poverty, obtained footage from a former state judge, who heard a criminal case involving one of the teens involved in the incident.

The sentencing for Proano comes during a trying period for the Chicago Police Department, which earlier this year was slammed by the U.S. Justice Department during the final days of the Obama administration for being beset by widespread racial bias, poor training and feckless oversight of officers accused of misconduct.

Proano was indicted in September 2016 as the department was still reeling from the aftermath of another officer, Jason Van Dyke, being charged less than a year earlier with first-degree murder of Laquan McDonald.

Dashcam video of that shooting showed Van Dyke fire 16 times at 17-year-old McDonald, who was armed with a small knife and appeared to be running away from police. Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Proano’s attorney, Daniel Herbert, argued that his client was “sacrificed to the furor” of the McDonald case, which triggered weeks of protest in Chicago after the court-ordered release of that shooting.

“It would be naïve to ignore the facts here and fail to recognize that Mr. Proano served as somewhat of a scapegoat in this case,” wrote Herbert, who is also serving as Van Dyke’s attorney, in a pre-sentencing memorandum for Proano.

Before Proano’s conviction, the city paid out a $360,000 settlement to three of the teens who filed a civil lawsuit over the incident.

Proano was stripped of his police powers in December 2015 by recommendation from the Independent Police Review Authority, the city agency tasked with reviewing allegations of major police misconduct and officer-involved shootings.

One of the teens was wounded in the shoulder and received graze wounds to his face and cheek. Another teen was struck on his left hip and right heel, and a third teen said in the lawsuit his right eye was injured by a police officer at the scene when he “was forcibly taken to the ground.”

Proano was involved in another shooting in July 2011 in which he fatally shot a 19-year-old man, who police had said appeared to be holding a woman hostage. Proano and other officers at the scene struggled with the teen, Niko Husband, and he said he felt the butt of a gun on the man during the tussle. After another officer tried and failed to use a taser to subdue Husband, Proano fired his service weapon three times, killing the man.

Husband’s family filed a civil lawsuit against police over the incident and was awarded $3.5 million. But the verdict was negated in November 2015 by a Cook County judge because the jury, in a written part of its verdict, responded that Proano had reasonable belief that his life was in danger when he opened fire.

Police brutality cases have cost the city more than $600 million in settlements and legal fees since 2004.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/11/20/chicago-police-officer-marco-proano-sentence-five-years-prison/883151001/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatoday-newstopstories