A Chicago police officer, Marco Proano, was sentenced to 5 years in prison, for shooting at teen thugs, who were attempting to flee in a stolen car. The court also decided that the attempt at law enforcement violated the civil rights of the African American teenagers.
“Mr. Proano was not maintaining the ‘thin blue line’ that separates us from anarchy, and chaos and violence,” U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman – an Obama appointed Judge – is reported having said. “He was bringing the chaos and violence. He was the source of it.”
In December 2013, the officers had pulled the vehicle over for speeding and then determined that the vehicle had been stolen. Police called for backup, which is when Proano and his partner had arrived on the scene.
The dash cam footage showed that Proano pulled his gun out as soon as he got out of his car and had fired 16 shots at the teenagers’ vehicle over a period of 9 seconds.
The car had begun to reverse as the officers arrived on the scene, and Proano pointed his gun at the vehicle. Proano opened fire and continued shooting even after the car came to a stop after backing into a light pole.
None of the teens were killed, but two were injured by the gunshots.
Proano was the first Chicago police officer ever to face severe federal charges for an on-duty shooting in more than 15 years. Some of the legal experts think this conviction may even signal a change in the way law enforcement officers are held accountable for their acts.
“Another thing that I think is critically important: Juries are educated about police, in general, these days,” a Northwestern law professor and lawyer at MacArthur Justice Center, Sheila Bevi went on to explain. “The culture of racism and the lack of accountability is something that is well known to anybody who reads the papers.”
Others draw a distinction between the civil rights conviction and homicide-related charges that have sparked so much controversy over the past few years, and caution that this case is unique in itself and doesn’t represent a wider shift.
“The elements of the crime are different in these federal cases than in the state court cases,” said Phil Stinson, a professor of criminology at Bowling Green State University. “Also, I think it is important to note that a federal jury trial in a U.S. District Court pulls jurors from a multi-county area and that might make a difference.”
As of November 16th, there had been 604 killings in Chicago in 2017 — and that actually represents a 12% decline from the previous years.