Chicago po­lice of­fi­cer con­victed in 2013 shoot­ing of teens

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

CHICAGO — (AP) — Ju­rors con­victed a Chicago po­lice of­fi­cer this week of civil rights vi­o­la­tions for fir­ing more than a dozen shots into a car of teenagers in 2013, wound­ing two.

Marco Proano, 42, of Chicago, was charged with two counts of de­priv­ing civil rights by us­ing un­rea­son­able force. Ju­rors re­turned with guilty ver­dicts on both counts af­ter de­lib­er­at­ing for only a few hours. Proano faces up to 10 years in prison on each count when sen­tenced Nov. 20.

Proano fired at the car as it backed up af­ter be­ing stopped for speed­ing on Dec. 22, 2013, wound­ing one teen in a hip and heel, and the other in the shoul­der.

Dur­ing clos­ing ar­gu­ments ear­lier Mon­day, a pros­e­cu­tor likened the of­fi­cer to a cow­boy, de­scrib­ing how Proano got out of his pa­trol car and be­gan shoot­ing al­most im­me­di­ately. The pros­e­cu­tion re­lied on dash­cam video of the in­ci­dent, play­ing it sev­eral times for ju­rors dur­ing the week­long trial in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

“He pulled his gun out, held it to one side and aimed it at those kids to send a mes­sage and to show who was in charge,” Erika Csic­sila said.

She scoffed at Proano’s claim that he opened fire, in part, to pro­tect one of the teens who was hang­ing out of a car win­dow.

“You don’t shoot at some­one to save their life,” she said.

De­fense lawyer Daniel Her­bert said his client was faced with a “split sec­ond” de­ci­sion, in­flu­enced by the fact that he was in a high­crime area and that an­other of­fi­cer had al­legedly men­tioned a gun; it was a BB gun that had fallen out of the car.

Her­bert also rep­re­sents Ja­son Van Dyke, who is await­ing trial in state court for mur­der af­ter shoot­ing 17-year-old Laquan McDon­ald 16 times as the black teenager ap­peared to walk from po­lice hold­ing a folded knife.

A video re­leased in 2015 of McDon­ald shoot­ing’s prompted weeks of protests.

McDon­ald’s case also led to a damn­ing Jus­tice Depart­ment civil rights re­port on Chicago’s 12,000-of­fi­cer force. It found deep-rooted civil rights vi­o­la­tions by po­lice, in­clud­ing a ten­dency to use ex­ces­sive force even when there is no ac­tual threat and a “per­va­sive cover-up cul­ture” among of­fi­cers.

Chicago’s po­lice re­view board has al­ready rec­om­mended Proano’s fir­ing, not­ing the dash­cam video shows him fir­ing to­ward the per­son in the car he said he was pro­tect­ing. Chicago also set­tled a civil law­suit with the in­jured teenagers for $360,000.

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