A 41-year-old White Chicago police officer was indicted last week on two counts of violating the federal civil rights of six Black teens in a stolen vehicle after he allegedly used unreasonable force during a 2013 traffic stop, writes The Huffington Post.
The indictment of officer Marco Proano, who was captured on a squad car’s dashcam, was handed down Thursday. The charges reportedly mark the first time in decades that a Chicago police officer has been brought up on federal civil rights charges in the shooting of a civilian, notes The Chicago Reporter.
The indictment stems from an incident captured on a squad car’s dashcam on December 22, 2013 after another patrol car pulled the teens over for speeding, the report says. When Proano, who is White, arrived on the scene, he is seen on the video, exiting his squad car with his gun drawn and pointed toward the carload of kids, writes the news outlet.
The video, released last year by a retired judge who had handled a criminal trial involving one of the teenagers, then reportedly shows Proano firing his weapon as the vehicle reverses away from him and races away from the scene. He then fires multiple times as the vehicle skids sideways and finally crashes into a street light a few feet away. The car was reportedly stolen, the report says.
A police statement at the time of the shooting said Proano reacted out of fear that the “occupants who had been in the vehicle were in a position to sustain great bodily harm,” writes The Associated Press. A weapon, family members of one of the teens described as a pellet gun, was recovered from the vehicle, but was never visible and was never brandished, writes The AP.
The shooting resulted in a lawsuit filed by the moms of three of the injured teens in the car and it was settled by the city for $360,000, according to The AP:
One of the three teens wasn’t shot but was taken to the ground by an officer and his right eye was injured, according to the lawsuit. The city and the Chicago Police Department secured from a judge a protective order to keep the video from being released by any of the parties in the civil case.
But that order did not prohibit former Cook County Judge Andrew Berman, who had presided over the trial of one of the teens, from releasing the video. After the trial in which the teenager was acquitted of possession of a stolen vehicle and a misdemeanor criminal trespass to a vehicle, Berman released the video.
He turned the video over to the Chicago Reporter magazine in June 2015, telling The Associated Press at the time that he did so because the video “just showed a reckless and callous disregard for human life by somebody who is sworn to serve and protect.”
The parents claimed that Proano, who had been involved in a fatal shooting back in 2011 involving a Black man, fired “without provocation, cause or justification of any kind,” writes The Huffington Post.
Proano, whose charges are punishable by up to 10 years in prison, has been reassigned to desk duty during the ongoing investigation, notes The AP.