A lawyer for a Chicago police officer convicted of excessive force for firing 16 shots into a car full of teenagers says his client is a scapegoat.
Prosecutors are asking U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman to sentence Marco Proano to eight years behind bars for the 2013 shooting. In a sentencing memo filed Monday, defense attorney Daniel Herbert asked for probation and painted Proano as a victim.
“The timing of Mr. Proano’s charge and trial could not have been worse for him,” Herbert wrote, noting the influence of a Department of Justice investigation into the Chicago Police Department that culminated in a scathing report released earlier this year.
“In one of its findings, the DOJ concluded that Chicago Police officers consistently fired at fleeing vehicles during the time period referenced in the DOJ report,” Herbert wrote. “None of those officers were disciplined by CPD, let alone charged with a crime by the federal government. It would be naïve to ignore the facts here and fail to recognize that Mr. Proano served as somewhat of a scapegoat in this case.”
“The situation was at a boiling point and Mr. Proano was sacrificed to the furor,” Herbert continued. “It would be unfair to allow Mr. Proano to shoulder the blame and penalty of alleged decades of mistreatment by the Chicago Police Department as a whole.”
Herbert asked the judge for three years of probation and a $3,000 fine, the minimum sentence.
Proano was found guilty of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law back in August. The charges stem from the Dec. 22, 2013 incident in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood on the city’s South Side. A dash cam was rolling as Proano fired indiscriminately into a reportedly stolen Toyota with six teenagers inside. One teen was shot in the right heel and left hip, and another was hit in the shoulder. Everyone survived.
“To date, defendant has yet to accept responsibility for his actions—to acknowledge the harm, both physical and otherwise, that he caused … and to recognize the broader consequences of his actions,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo filed Monday.
“He sees himself as the victim here,” the memo continues. “Defendant’s lack of remorse runs so deep he will not even concede that, consistent with his training, he at least should have been holding his gun with both hands at all times, including when he first emerged from his squad car.”
Proano was involved in at least two other on-duty shootings, according to the Chicago Tribune. In 2010, he was one of five officers who opened fire on a car following a police chase on the city’s South Side. The driver, a 32-year-old convicted felon, was killed.
Less than a year later, Proano shot and killed a 19-year-old at close range during a struggle at a dance party. He said the man he shot was trying to pull a gun. Proano was cleared in both shootings, and was given an award for the latter. A jury later ruled the shooting of the teenager was unjustified and awarded the teen’s family $3.5 million.
Proano is set to be sentenced on Nov. 20.