Police Officer Who Shot at Car Full of Teens to be Sentenced in Federal Court

Police Officer Marco Proano
Chicago Police Officer Marco Proano

Update #1 (9:30 PM): Officer Marco Proano was sentenced to five years in prison for shooting at a car full of teens. District Judge Gary Feinerman said at the time of the shooting the officer was not acting as one but rather was the “source of chaos and violence.”

An effort to fire Proano is pending with the Chicago Police Department.

Chicago Police Officer Marco Proano, 42, will be sentenced Monday for shooting into a car full of teens 16 times in 2013 wounding two of the teens. Prosecutors argued that Officer Proano could have killed all six teens in the vehicle when firing indiscriminately into the stolen Toyota. It was by sheer chance that he only wounded two of the teens.

Proano was convicted in August on two felony counts of using excessive force in violation of the victims’ civil rights.

The Chicago Tribune reported:

In asking U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman for probation, Proano’s attorney, Daniel Herbert, said in a court filing late Monday that the married father of three had a decorated career before it was derailed amid protests against police violence and a civil rights probe by the U.S. Department of Justice — all sparked by the court-ordered release in November 2015 of video of the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

The timing of Proano’s September 2016 indictment “could not have been worse for him,” Herbert wrote, adding that he should not have to “shoulder the blame” for a Police Department that the Justice Department, in its scathing report earlier this year, said has a decadeslong history of mistreating citizens.

Prosecutors are asking for up to eight years in prison for the former police officer. His attorney is saying that Proano acted appropriately and should not have to shoulder the burden of an inept police department. The attorney, Daniel Herbert, alleges that the police department is rife with systemic problems and that his client is a victim of backlash against police since the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting, a Black teen killed by Chicago police. In that case, police lied and attempted to cover-up police wrongdoing claiming that McDonald lunged at officers prompting them to fire. Dashcam video proved McDonald did not lunge at officers and in fact moved away from them.

Proano is going to be the first Chicago police officer in memory to be convicted in federal court of criminal charges from an on-duty shooting. He also is the first officer to go to trial in any shooting case since the release of the McDonald video sparked protests, political turmoil and promises of systemic change from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“(Proano) gave the community reason to doubt law enforcement’s intentions and reason to believe that it cannot have faith that law enforcement will serve all citizens equally,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Georgia Alexakis and Erika Csicsila wrote in the 23-page sentencing memo. His actions “impugned the integrity” of other police officers “who go to work every day and fulfill their oath to serve and protect,” according to the filing.

Proano’s trial prosecutors are saying the dashcam video of the shooting — which unfolded in about nine seconds — shows Proano violating all of the training he received at the Police Academy, including to never fire into a crowd, only fire if you can clearly see your target and to stop shooting once the threat has been eliminated.