A federal jury found a Chicago police officer guilty Monday of civil rights violations for shooting into a car full of teenagers in the south side Roseland neighborhood in 2013.
According to a Justice Department news release, 42-year-old Marco Proana was found guilty on both counts of deprivation of rights under color of law for firing 16 shots into a vehicle that held six teenagers, wounding two of them during the shooting. He could get up to 20 years in prison at his sentencing hearing set for Nov. 20.
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson issued a statement after the verdict, condemning Proano’s actions, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“Mr. Proano’s actions are intolerable and stand in stark contrast to the hard work Chicago Police Officers do each day to build trust and serve our communities,” Johnson said. “As police officers, integrity and trust are paramount to everything we do, and we will always hold ourselves to the highest professional standards.”
While the CPD is in the process of trying to fire Proano, Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police president Kevin Graham had a different take on the situation, saying, “the pressure of the police is making the job extremely difficult.”
“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,” Graham continued. “We will meet with our legal advisers to consider the next steps.”
During closing arguments Monday, Proano’s defense attorney Daniel Herbert, who has defended other Chicago police officers involved in excessive force cases, said Proano had been drawn to the scene by a sense of duty on the night of Dec. 22, 2013, where two police officers had already encountered a stolen Toyota filled with teenagers.
By the time Proano arrived, the driver had fled the scene. A BB gun fell out of the car, and then one of the teenagers lunged forward from the back seat and threw the car into reverse, driving away from the police officers with no one in the car’s path behind.
Dashcam video captured the subsequent events, which the jury watched numerous times. Proano is seen in the video stepping forward, holding up his gun. He steps back as the car reverses, then lifts his gun again with both hands and opens fire on the car. One teen was wounded in the right heel and left hip, and another was wounded in the shoulder.
Proano said he was trying to protect one of the teenagers hanging out of the window as the car reversed, but federal prosecutors said that was no justification for his actions.
Herbert argued the shooting lasted only four seconds and that the car could be considered a deadly weapon, but prosecutors shot back that deadly force was neither “reasonable” nor “necessary” in this particular incident.