Opening statements began Tuesday in the trial of Chicago Police Officer Marco Proano, who faces federal civil rights charges for excessive use of force in connection to a 2013 shooting that injured two teenagers.
Police dashcam video captured the moment Proano fired his service weapon into a car full of teenagers the night of December 22, 2013.
Investigators found that he fired 16 shots in all, and a grand jury indicted Proano in 2016 on charges that he violated the civil rights of the teens – whose families already reached a civil settlement with the City of Chicago.
When he was charged, Proano’s attorney, Dan Herbert, said the shooting was justified because the car was stolen and another officer saw a gun inside.
“The reality is these shootings are ugly and they show situations that, to the public and the uninformed and uneducated when it comes to police work, they look like bad shootings,” said Herbert, who also represents Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, facing murder charges in the high-profile shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
“When you find out the facts, when you find out what is happening and, most importantly, when you find out how these police officers were trained by their supervisors, their leaders, to do exactly what he did. Now they are turning their back on him,” Herbert continued.
A 10-year veteran of the force, Proano has been suspended without pay since the shooting, and the Independent Police Review Authority recommended that he be fired.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is still considering that recommendation, and said that the department’s training has changed in light of that incident.
“That’s why our new use of force policy is moving us in the right direction, because we highlight the sanctity of life and de-escalation,” Johnson said.