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Chicago police officer given 5 years in prison for shooting car full of 5 teenagers

Marco Proano said he fired to protect a teen hanging out of the window of the car.

Former Chicago police officer Marco Proano
Former Chicago police officer Marco Proano
Image: Terrence Antonio James via PA Images

A POLICE OFFICER in Chicago, a city with a track record of abuses by law enforcement, has been sentenced to five years in prison for shooting at a car full of teenagers.

The five-year sentence marked the first time in recent history that a police officer in the Midwestern city was sent to prison for an on-duty shooting.

Marco Proano was convicted of two federal civil rights violations in August following the 2013 shooting, during which he fired 16 times at the teenagers’ car, wounding two of them. Prosecutors had asked for eight years in prison.

In sentencing Proano, the judge said he was troubled by the officer’s lack of acceptance that he committed a crime, according to local media reports.

Proano, who is still on the force, said he fired to protect a teen hanging out of the window of the Toyota Avalon sedan when it suddenly reversed, according to the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper.

Decades of abuse

Chicago’s police department is struggling to rebuild trust with communities, especially poor neighbourhoods with predominantly Latino or black populations, following decades of abusive tactics.

Prosecutors last week exonerated 15 people previously convicted of drug crimes due to concerns that the police may have falsely accused them, as part of a concerted effort by prosecutors to re-examine past convictions that may be tainted by police misconduct.

Two other men – both serving decades for murder convictions – were also freed last week.

In the highest profile case in the city, police officer Jason Van Dyke is awaiting his murder trial for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014.

The case led to protests and a year-long federal civil rights probe that found a pattern of abuse and excessive force in the Chicago Police Department.

© AFP 2017 

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