When Chicago cop Marco Proano opened fired on a car filled with teens during a traffic stop for speeding in 2013, it was at least the second time the officer had used deadly force against black teenagers under questionable circumstances,
But this time, a dash cam video led to his indictment by a federal judge for deprivation of rights.
And now he is facing up to ten years in prison.
The video, posted below, shows bullets from Proano’s gun piercing through the rear of the fleeing car as it tried to drive away from the stop, striking two of the teenagers riding inside, both whom luckily survived their wounds.
According to the indictment, seen below, on December 22 of 2013, while acting under the color of law, Chicago cop Marco Proano willfully subjected the victim to depravation of rights secured and protected by the Constitution of the United States.
It was a dreary and freezing wintery night in Chicago when officer Proano’s dash cam recorded him firing his handgun into a car full of teenagers who he pulled over for violating the speed limit.
When the drivers did not stop, Proano exited his patrol car, drew his gun on the youngsters and fired several bullets into their car as it drove past him.
In 2013, the city obtained a protective order to prevent the video from being released to the public.
But retired Judge Andrew Berman, who was not bound by the protective order in federal court, made the disturbing-yet-real video public after viewing it in 2015 in his last case before he retired.
Berman implied the system might work better if federal indictments for deprivation of right were more commonplace.
“I was pleased to see the justice system as a whole did not just simply let this case drop off their collective radar screen because, fortunately, there was not a fatality involved,” he told the Chicago Sun Times.
“I didn’t think this officer, given his behavior, should be out there with a firearm since he was showing on that video that he wasn’t fit to do that job.”
U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon hinted indictments could be more common in the future within his district.
“When a police officer uses unreasonable force, it has a harmful effect on not only the victims, but also the public, who lose faith and confidence in law enforcement,” U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon responded in a written statement. “Our office will continue to independently and vigorously pursue civil rights prosecutions to hold officers accountable and strengthen trust in the police.”
United States District Judge for the Norther District of Illinois, Gary Scott Feinerman, signed off on the grand jury’s indictment.
Officer Proano was released on a $10,000 bond.
“Showing on Video he wasn’t Fit”
Officer Marco Proano was the triggerman in a separate, fatal shooting when he killed 19-year-old Niko Husband in 2011 after officers shot him claiming he attacked a young woman who said, “get off me!”
But the woman, a friend and dance partner of Husband after she met him at a dance troupe, testified she was actually talking to one of the officers, not to Nika Husband.
“The bottom line is, we didn’t feel that Proano had to shoot the way he did,” the foreman concluded. “Three times point-blank in the chest? With other police officers there to help him?”
A jury awarded $3.5 million for his decision to use deadly force after hearing the case.
Although the jury’s decision was negated by a Judge Elizabeth Budzinski, who reasoned that some of the jurors believed the cop “feared for his life” when he shot the teenager.
According to the Chicago Tribune, after the verdict, the jury foreman the jury foreman was awestruck after he searched Proano’s name on the internet, and the first thing that came up was officer Proano shooting into the car of teens as they drove away, welding his pistol with a “gangbanger grip” as he unloaded his bullets.
“Who shoots a gun like that?” he said rhetorically in reference to the grip Proano had on his department gun. “Only someone who gets a kick out of shooting.”
“The bottom line is, we didn’t feel that Proano had to shoot the way he did,” the foreman recalled.
“Three times point-blank in the chest? With other police officers there to help him?”
“My face was on fire,” he said after the verdict.
As a juvenile, Husband had a record for gun possession in 2009, but was attending classes at Kennedy-King College and had a new outlook after a Cook County sheriff’s boot camp program, according to his mother.
“He said, ‘I’m at a party, Ma, I’ll call you back,'” Priscilla Price said with a sad smile remembering the last time she spoke with her son.
“He never called me back.”
Anguished Parents, Mounting Civil Rights Lawsuits; a Cop back on the Beat
“These were kids out joyriding and certainly did not deserve to be executed for what they were doing,” said Timothy Fiscella, the attorney representing the teens, adding that the detectives threatened his client he could not go to the hospital unless he admitted he had a role in stealing the car they were in.
Families of the teens sued the city in federal court.
Their lawsuit alleged Chicago cops later removed them from a hospital by force while they were still recovering from their gunshot wounds and put them through lengthy interrogations and questioning.
One was sobbing in pain during the interrogation and the other began bleeding so much, he had to be driven back to the hospital.
Since 2002, Chicago police’s policy has barred their cops from shooting into cars in most cases, after a police fired rounds into a car containing a toddler in the backseat.
Under the initial policy, “Firing at or into a moving vehicle is only authorized to prevent death or great bodily harm to the sworn member or another person. When confronted with an oncoming vehicle and that vehicle is the only force used against them, sworn members will move out of the vehicle’s path,” according to the Sun Times.
The department’s policy was amended last year and restricted cops from “firing at or into a moving vehicle when the vehicle is the only force used against the sworn member or another person.”
The deprivation of rights charge committed by Proano is in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 242.
As expected, the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago’s police union, is backing officer Proano and say he was only trying to protect a passenger in the car who he thought was being dragged.
Pricilla Price did not know officer Proana was back on the streets when she saw the video of him unloading rounds into the car of black teens.
“When I saw that, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s the same guy who killed my son,'” she said.
“He shouldn’t have been out on the street.”
In a separate lawsuit related to the same incident, a Asiah Clark who recorded officer Proano on her cell phone filed a claim alleging her First Amendment right was violated.
After the shooting, a television reporter approached Clark. She agreed to an interview, but was quickly led away by an officer who wouldn’t allow her to speak with news media, according to the Chicago Reporter.
“He let it be known that I wasn’t going to be talking to this reporter, and that was that,” she said earlier this year.