From [HERE] and [HERE] Federal prosecutors are asking for an eight-year prison sentence for Chicago police Officer Marco Proano, calling his decision to fire 16 shots into a moving vehicle filled with unarmed teens an egregious violation of his training that further undermined public trust in the police.
Proano, an 11-year department veteran, was convicted by a jury in August of two felony counts of using excessive force in violation of the victims' civil rights. The December 2013 shooting was captured on video by a police dashboard camera. Proano is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 20.
In asking for the eight-year term, prosecutors said in a court filing Monday that Proano could have killed all six teenagers when he fired indiscriminately into a reportedly stolen Toyota but that by “sheer chance” the bullets wounded only two.
Still, Proano’s blatant use of excessive force — as well as his attempts to justify his actions after the fact — “added another dimension” to the seriousness of the case and exacerbated the already-strained relationship Chicago police have with the communities they serve, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Georgia Alexakis and Erika Csicsila wrote in the 23-page sentencing memo.
“(Proano) gave the community reason to doubt law enforcement’s intentions and reason to believe that it cannot have faith that law enforcement will serve all citizens equally,” the filing said. His actions also “impugned the integrity” of other officers “who go to work every day and fulfill their oath to serve and protect,” according to the filing.
Proano, 42, was the first Chicago police officer in memory to be convicted in federal court of criminal charges stemming from an on-duty shooting. He also was the first officer to go to trial in any shooting case since the court-ordered release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video in November 2015 sparked protests, political turmoil and promises of systemic change from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Proano’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, who also represents Officer Jason Van Dyke on murder charges stemming from McDonald’s death, was expected to file his own sentencing brief in Proano’s case later Monday.
Meanwhile, the Police Department is seeking to fire Proano, who was placed on unpaid suspension after he was criminally charged in September 2016.
During Proano’s weeklong trial, prosecutors said the dashcam video of the shooting — which unfolded in about nine seconds — showed Proano violated all of the training he received at the Police Academy, including to never fire into a crowd, only fire if you can clearly see your target and to stop shooting once the threat has been eliminated.
The video — played several times for jurors, including in slow motion — showed Proano walking quickly toward the stolen Toyota within seconds of arriving at the scene while he held his gun pointed sideways in his left hand. Proano can be seen backing away briefly as the car went in reverse, away from the officer. He then raised his gun with both hands and opened fire as he walked toward the car, continuing to fire even after the car had rolled into a light pole and stopped.
"Marco Proano drew first, shot next and then he tried to justify it later," Csicsila said in her closing argument at the trial. "He came out of his car like a cowboy, he pulled his gun out, held it to one side and aimed it at those kids to send a message and to show who was in charge."
Proano did not testify in his own defense. Herbert, however, argued that the officer did exactly as he was trained — to stop the threat and also protect the life of one of the teens, who was hanging from a passenger window as the car reversed.
But in their filing Monday, prosecutors scoffed at the explanation, saying Proano tried to justify his use of deadly force by claiming he fired in the Toyota’s direction in order to save one passenger.
Prosecutors also noted that Proano has shown no remorse for his actions. The officer told court officials in a pre-sentence interview that he initially aimed his gun sideways as tactical maneuver because he is left-handed, according to the filing. He also indicated in that interview that he sees himself as the victim, saying he felt “a sense of ‘betrayal’” because he’d served the community for many years and “is now ‘left out in the cold,’” prosecutors wrote.
The prosecution filing also makes note of Proano's checkered past, a fact that was not revealed to the jury. The Tribune has previously reported that in August 2010, Proano shot and wounded a 20-year-old woman in the 700 block of West 91st Street. Less than a year later, in July 2011, Proano fatally shot 19-year-old Niko Husband at close range during a struggle as police tried to break up an unruly dance party on the South Side. Proano claimed Husband had tried to pull a gun.
Prosecutors wrote in the filing that Proano was also involved in a second on-duty incident involving a fatality in his career but did not elaborate.