Guilty Verdict In Federal Case Against Chicago Police Officer Marco Proano
The verdict is unprecedented. Marco Proano has been convicted in federal court on criminal charges from an on-duty shooting. Proano was convicted of two felony counts of using excessive force, violating the victims’ civil rights. He faces up to 10 years in prison on each count. His sentencing is scheduled for November 20, 2017. Proano’s victims survived, and it has taken almost 4 years for this day to arrive.
On December 22, 2013, Proano spotted a stolen car that was filled with teens on Chicago’s Southside. One of the teens exited the vehicle and ran. Another attempted to get out but the door would not open because a cop cruiser had pulled up on the side. Yet another teen in the backseat, reached over to the front driver’s side and with his hands, pressed on the gas.
Proano opened fire, and continued shooting even after the stolen car ran into a light pole and stopped. Two of the teens were wounded.
There is dash cam video, but there was also some controversy to make it public,as reported in the below video by Roland Martin. During a civil case filed by the teens, the court sealed the video. It took a news publication to get the video to make it public. A lawsuit brought by the two wounded teens was settled by the City of Chicago for $360,000.
Proano’s trial began on August 21, 2017 in U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman’s courtroom. On August 28, 2017, the jury deliberated 4 hours and returned the verdict of guilty on both counts.
Speaking to reporters after the verdict, acting U.S. Attorney Joel Levin acknowledged that without video evidence, it’s extremely difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an officer knew he was using excessive force when he opened fire.
“Historically, the lack of videos has made it difficult for us to meet our burden,” Levin said in the lobby of the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse. “With the availability of more videos … it can, as it did in this case, supply the evidence we need to make the case.”
Proano was placed on unpaid suspension last September. The Police Department is seeking to fire him. In an emailed statement, Superintendent Eddie Johnson called Proano’s actions “intolerable.”
The Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing rank-and-file officers, released a statement;
“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.”
Two of the teens in the stolen car ended up in juvenile court.
Proano was represented by lawyer Daniel Herbert who also represents Officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke is currently awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges for the shooting of Laquan McDonald.
Proano is an 11-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. The December 2013 shooting was his third in three years. During a four-year period ending in mid-December 2014, Proano was the subject of nine citizen complaints, including allegations of illegal searches and excessive force.
In August 2010, Proano shot and wounded a 20-year-old woman. Less than a year later, in July 2011, Proano fatally shot 19-year-old Niko Husband during a struggle at a dance party. Proano claimed Husband had tried to pull a gun. Husband’s autopsy showed at least three shots to his chest. Testimony during the civil trial was that a third shot left burn marks on Niko Husband’s chest indicating that Proano pressed his gun against Husband’s chest when firing the shot. In November 2015, a Cook County jury in a civil case found Husband’s shooting unjustified. The jury awarded Husband’s mother $3.5 million in damages. That ruling is now on appeal.
For killing Niko Husband, Proano was awarded a department commendation for valor.