Friday, June 19, 2015

Dashcam video emerges showing Chicago police officer pumping bullets into a car filled with unarmed black teens

A failure to stop, apparently

A retired Chicago judge has released a dashboard camera video that shows an officer firing more than a dozen rounds into a car carrying six unarmed black teenagers, two of whom were wounded.

The grainy footage was recorded on the evening of December 22, 2013. The news website The Chicago Reporter obtained the video from former Cook County Judge Andrew Berman, who presided over a criminal case against one of the teens involved in the police shooting.

In the video, a Chicago police officer identified in court filings as Marco Proano is seen opening fire on a car filled with African-American teenagers at 95th and LaSalle streets on Chicago's South Side.

According to court documents, before gunshots rang out, Proano pulled over the vehicle for speeding.

One of the car's occupants suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder and a bullet grazed his cheek and forehead.

Another boy was hit in his left hip and right heel, and a third teen suffered an injury to his eye when he was forced to the ground by police officers.

Judge Berman, who told the local news outlet that he has seen many grisly crimes over the course of his career, said he found the dashcam video so disturbing that he decided to make it public.

‘You don’t start firing into a car full of unarmed people,’ Berman fumed. ‘You just don’t do that.’

After the shooting, police discovered that the sedan Proano shot up was stolen.

Three of the six teenagers were charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Judge Berman, who heard the case of one of the accused boys, found him not guilty saying the prosecution failed to show that the defendant knew the car was stolen.

The video was at the center of a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the three injured teenagers against the City of Chicago, Officer Proano and two of his colleagues.

The two sides in the lawsuit reached a $360,000 settlement back in March, but the City Council still has to approve the payment.

At the request of city attorneys, a federal judge barred plaintiffs and defendants in the lawsuit from releasing the dashcam video, but the ban did not apply to Judge Berman.

According to the Chicago Reporter, Officer Proano, who has a history of complaints against him dating back to 2011, may have violated the Chicago Policy Department’s policy that prohibits cops from 'firing at or into a moving vehicle when the vehicle is the only force used against the sworn member or another person.'

The departmental policy was revised in February, 14 months after the shooting.

Proano has been taken off the streets and assigned to desk duty, but according to the Chicago Reporter, he has not been disciplined in connection to the case.

One of the dozen and a half complaints filed against the officer between 2011 and 2015 involved excessive force, but he was cleared in each case.

Judge Berman said he released the dashcam video hoping that it will force the department to hold Marco Proano accountable for his actions. ‘He shouldn’t be allowed to be out there with a gun,’ Berman said. ‘He has shown callous disregard for human life.’

Chicago Tribune reported, citing a source familiar with the matter, that the case revolving around the dashcam video is now being investigated by the FBI and the US Attorney's Office.

The independent Police Review Authority also has been investigating the shooting for the past 18 months.

On Thursday, the Chicago Police Department released a statement concerning the police-involved shooting. ‘Each time an officer fires their weapon is a serious matter, which is why the city takes two very important steps for each shooting incident: We conduct an independent, civilian-led investigation, and we refer each incident to prosecutors to determine if criminal charges are appropriate.

‘In regard to this incident, the officer was immediately moved off the street and assigned to desk duty, and the matter was referred to state and federal authorities. Due to pending investigations, CPD cannot comment further.’

At the time of the shooting, Pat Camden, a spokesman for Chicago’s police officer union, defended Proano’s actions depicted in the footage, saying that he opened fire because he feared for the life of a backseat passenger who was being dragged by the car as he attempted to get out.

Original report here

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