CHICAGO — A federal judge sentenced a former Chicago police officer who was convicted of civil rights violations after he opened fire on a car full of teenagers to five years in prison on Monday, telling the officer that when he pulled the trigger 16 times he was acting more like a violent criminal than someone sworn to uphold the law.
“At that particular moment he was acting not as a police officer… He was bringing chaos and violence,” U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman said of Marco Proano.
Proano, who did not show any emotion during the sentencing, told the judge that he fired at the car to “protect human life as it was” and that he continues to “feel strongly” that he acted properly. His lawyer later explained that Proano acted in part to save the life of a teen hanging from the window of the vehicle and prevent the stolen car from speeding away, where it could have crashed into other vehicles or strike pedestrians.
The sentence comes three months after a jury convicted 42-year-old Proano of two felony counts of using excessive force in violation of the two people in the car who were injured when the officer shot him in December 2013.
On Monday, Herbert again argued that Proano was doing what he was trained to do and what he “witnessed other police officers do and what he was encouraged to do by his superiors.” Herbert suggested that Proano was a victim of the anti-police climate toward the Chicago police force since a dashcam video was released in late 2015 showing the fatal shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald.
But the judge rejected that argument.
Proano, who since his conviction has been fired from his job at the police department, was ordered to turn himself in to authorities on Jan. 23 to begin his prison term. Herbert said he plans to appeal the conviction.
The sentence was not what either side asked for, with Herbert requesting that Proano be put on probation but not sent to prison and prosecutors asking the judge to sentence Proano to eight years in prison.
The case marked another case in a series of allegations of Chicago police brutality and misconduct in recent years.
The trial of Proano was the first of a Chicago police officer for an on-duty shooting since McDonald’s death in 2014.