Chicago, IL — In August, Chicago police officer Marco Proano told a jury that when he fired 16 shots into a car full of unarmed teenagers, that was not threatening him, he was just doing his job. However, the dashcam video was so ‘gruesome’ that a jury did not agree. After only a 4 hour deliberation, Proana became the exception to the rule by actually getting convicted for his crimes.
Proano was found guilty on two felony counts of using excessive force in violating the victims’ civil rights. He was facing a maximum of 10 years in prison on each count but moments ago, he was sentenced to just 5 years. Given Chicago’s irresponsible and incredible ability to utterly fail at holding violent cops accountable, the sentence is surprisingly lengthy and precedent-setting.
During the sentencing, U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman rejected Proano’s argument that he was forced to shoot at the car to save a teen’s life.
The judge said that at the time of the shooting, Proano “was not a police officer . . . He was the source of chaos and violence.”
As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Proano’s sentencing hearing followed a week that saw prosecutors drop several criminal charges in state court in connection with alleged police misconduct — including what is believed to be the first mass exoneration in Cook County history.
Daniel Herbert, Proano’s attorney, told the judge that prosecutors “can consider the message received.”
“Every law enforcement officer on the streets would not dare step into the shoes of Marco Proano,” Herbert wrote earlier this month. “Marco Proano was a decorated police officer who now is branded as a criminal. A search of his name does not reveal heroic arrests or public service awards, rather it is story after story about his indictment, trial and conviction. The unqualified anguish that Proano and his family have endured throughout this ordeal cannot be naysaid. His reputation is gone.”
This sympathetic description of a dangerous cop who nearly killed six kids as a hero should come as no surprise given the fact that Herbert is also representing Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer facing murder charges in state court after fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in his back as he ran away.
The family of McDonald is likely encouraged by this conviction and subsequent sentencing as it could pave the way to hold the man accountable who murdered their son.
Naturally, the Fraternal Order of Police took to expressing their disappointment with the verdict at the time and attempted to paint Proano as a victim of public scrutiny.
“The pressure on the police is making the job extremely difficult,” FOP President Kevin Graham said in the statement. “It seems that the criminal elements in our society are not accountable in our justice system, while the police face an intense scrutiny for every split-second decision they make.”
Given the fact that Proano is the first cop to be convicted in memory, Graham’s claim of scrutiny for Chicago cops is laughable.
As TFTP reported in 2015, the deeply troubling police dash cam video was kept from the public by the city of Chicago which showed Proano fire into a car occupied by six unarmed teenagers. Police did not want the public to see this video, and after you watch it, you will know why.
After the shooting, city lawyers successfully convinced a federal judge to put the video under a protective order, which prevented parties to the lawsuit from releasing it publicly. However, after watching the video, Retired Cook County Judge Andrew Berman was so disturbed by what he saw that he leaked it to The Chicago Reporter. Neither Berman nor the Reporter were subject to the order.
“I’ve seen lots of gruesome, grisly crimes,” said. Berman. “But this is disturbing on a whole different level.”
In March of 2015, the teens won a federal lawsuit against the city and three police officers, using the video as the center of their case.
In the video, Proano shoots into a moving car of six unarmed teenagers. Two of the teenagers were shot – one in the shoulder and the other in the left hip and right heel, according to court documents.
CPD’s policy prohibits officers from firing at moving vehicles that are not a threat. The teens in the car posed zero threat to Proano, who jumped out of his cruiser and immediately unloaded his weapon into multiple unarmed teenagers.
After the shooting police discovered that the car was stolen. However, the teen was found not guilty because prosecutors were unable to prove he knew the car was stolen. Even if they had stolen this vehicle, the actions of Officer Proano would not have been justified.
For nearly two years—because he and his cronies hid the video—Proano was never disciplined and remained an active member of the Chicago Police Department. Thanks to a judge with a conscience, however, all that has changed.
Below is the video you were never supposed to see.