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Jury Awards $44.7 Million To Victim of Chicago Cop

Michael D. LaPorta, | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Michael LaPorta is now 37-years old.  He has been unable to walk and read since January 2010 and for a period of time, had been unable to talk.  That’s because on January 12, 2010 Chicago police officer Patrick Kelly shot Michael in the back of the head.

Chicago Police Officer Patrick Kelly, 36-years old, was twice, formally found mentally unfit for duty.  He had also been arrested twice, and accused of beating a girlfriend.  Kelly had been treated for alcohol addiction.  Along with this, Kelly was sued 6 times and was subject of more than two dozen investigations into his on and off-duty conduct.  One investigation found that Kelly assaulted a woman sergeant. In another investigation, Kelly was accused of repeatedly using a Taser on a pregnant woman who later suffered a miscarriage.  The Chicago City Council approved a $500,000 settlement with the woman, Elaina Turner, and her fiance, Ulysses Green.

In total, Kelly related lawsuits resulted in nearly $1.2 million in settlement pay-outs and jury awards.

Even with this record, Michael LaPorta was Patrick Kelly’s friend.  They had been friends since childhood and were roommates in college.  One evening, Michael and Patrick spent the night drinking at two Chicago South Side bars.  The morning of January 10, 2010, they went to Kelly’s house.  Michael said that Kelly began hitting his dog, so he told Kelly that he was leaving.  He then heard a clicking sound.  Read the rest of this entry

Guilty Verdict In Federal Case Against Chicago Police Officer Marco Proano

Chicago police Officer Marco Proano, 42, leaves the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on Aug. 28, 2017, after a federal jury convicted Proano of using excessive force in firing 16 shots at a stolen car filled with teenagers in December 2013, wounding two. (Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune)

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.  Read the rest of this entry

The Killing of Laquan McDonald

It’s not what Laquan did or did not do. Rather, it is what the Chicago Police Department did after officer Jason Van Dyke killed Laquan.

Brandon Smith’s introduction on The Guardian, says that he  is a Chicago-based independent journalist who, with the help of whistleblowers and the Freedom of Information Act, has reported on civil rights abuses, privatization of public assets, digital privacy concerns and pollution of land and water.”

Journalist Brandon Smith, left, and activist William Calloway talk to reporters Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, after a Cook County judge ordered the Chicago Police Department to release a video of an officer fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Nov. 25, in Chicago. The video is said to show the officer shooting McDonald 16 times in October 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Journalist Brandon Smith, left, and activist William Calloway (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

“Independent journalist.” I like that title because it reflects a form of journalism that has almost gone the way of the dinosaur. It would be correct to replace “independent” with “investigative” in this matter, because what Brandon Smith did goes beyond reporting. Without the backing of a publication to finance his endeavors, Brandon Smith did not have to proceed at his own costs. Brandon worked along with another independent journalist, Jamie Kalven, and University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman. Because they are independent journalists, they aren’t often issued press credentials to attend press conferences and such.  In fact, he was not allowed to attend the press conference that discussed the release of video that came about due to his persistence and good work.

Had they not been independent and determined, we would not have the video of the killing of Laquan McDonald. Without the release of the video, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke would still be on paid desk duty; and his fictionalized report of what happened would be business as usual in cover-ups.

Kalven filed the Freedom of Information request for the video. The City declined his request. Brandon’s battle for release of the video began in May, 2015. In an article published in The Chicago Reader on August 7, 2015, Brandon wrote:

“But I’m not taking no for an answer—particularly in light of Kalven v. Chicago, an Illinois Appellate Court decision last March that established information about police misconduct is public, except in limited circumstances that don’t apply in the case of the McDonald shooting video.”

Read the rest of this entry

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