Police shooting video highlights importance of accountability

Susan Smith Richardson

Editor and Publisher Susan Smith Richardson

It happened in less than 10 seconds. A Chicago police officer fired more than a dozen shots into a car of unarmed black teenagers. Footage from the dashboard camera inside officer Marco Proano’s police car captures the incident on December 22, 2013.

Last week, the Reporter posted exclusive video of the shooting given to us by retired Cook County Judge Andrew Berman. Hundreds of thousands of people watched the video and read the accompanying story by reporter Jonah Newman. Two of the teenagers were injured, and bystanders seen in the background of the video were threatened by the gunfire.

The video is at the center of a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the teens against the city and three police officers, which was settled in March.

Most viewers expressed anger at the incident, but some questioned our motives in posting the video.

Berman, a respected judge with a long career on the bench and as a public defender, called the incident the most “disturbing” thing he had seen in his career. He hopes the video will help hold Proano, who has been the target of previous complaints, accountable for “outrageous overuse of deadly force.”

I remember the grainy home video of Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King on the side of a highway in 1991. It changed the conversation about policing and police abuse. Today, the same thing is happening with the videos from ever-present cell phones and surveillance cameras. Critics argue that the recordings are only a snapshot of an incident. Yet they help illuminate situations where there is typically only one source: the police officer. A video showed Walter Scott being shot multiple times in the back by a North Charleston, S.C., police officer. A video showed Eric Garner being choked to death by a New York City police officer. I could go on.

The Black Lives Matter movement has targeted police violence, an old issue that has taken center stage again half a century after the gains of the civil-rights era. “My first reaction was, if those are white kids in the car, there’s no way they [would] shoot,” Berman, who is white, told the Reporter.

Racial justice drives the conversation about police accountability. But we also need to talk about fiscal accountability. Last year, the city of Chicago paid out more $50 million in police misconduct settlements. In an earlier investigation, the Reporter found that a handful of police officers repeatedly abused the badge, costing the city millions of dollars in settlements.

What’s next in the shooting case? The City Council could meet soon to approve a $360,000 payout for the teenagers. The Independent Police Review Authority is still investigating Proano. And the FBI has not confirmed or denied whether it is investigating the shooting.

The Reporter will stay on the issue.

The video of the officer shooting into the car full of unarmed teens scratches the surface of deep problems with policing and how the city responds to allegations of wrongdoing.

 

  • Clements

    This is not a matter that has been explored by Black Lives matter longer then Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression who have explored this issue for more then 30 years in the city of Chicago. The sad reality is that our media write stories without standing in the midst of those who are really mobilizing for change. Black lives matter which most are my friends, they have explored police violence against citizens at best here in Chicago maybe three to four years. About three to four years ago two men in less then a week was found hanging over at area two violent crimes unit. Trauma was fond upon one of the men. Two different hanging in less then three days inside the same holding cell. Well over 200 African American and Latino men tortured by a corrupt police detective that still have over 100 of the men incarcerated because many cannot gain hearings on their claim of torture, with a historical reparations package for some of the survivors that equal to slavery reparations with many of them suffering from psychological “complex” trauma. As a way for the city of Chicago to show accountability it was through raising your taxes to pay for the reparations ordinance. That’s no accountability, this penny change should have come directly from the Chicago Police Department budget or from their pension funds. Accountability is not putting my kids in some ran down college paid for by the city, nor would it be through a psychological session, but through the city of Chicago enforcing policy for police to be held accountable through its own budget and that citizens that are barely able to survive not be hit with tax increases to support their dirty deeds. Today it’s known that But he tortured all of us! Either directly or indirectly

    • Thank you and Steve for your comments. To clarify, my reference to Black Lives Matter was national, not local. I know and value the longtime work of CAARPR, in fact, last year I assigned a reporter to cover your conference and attended myself. We wrote about your proposal for the police accountability council. Susan

  • Steve Craig

    To follow up on Mark’s comments, there has been a steady stream of commentary that essentially asks police to be more accountable with no specific ideas offered to address the problem. However, there is a movement afoot in Chicago to demand a concrete solution to police accountability. CAARPR, together with other activists and community organizations has drafted model legislation for the creation of an all elected Civilian Police Accountability Council that would give people in the community real control over the police. As things stand now, the appointed bodies supposedly responsible for investigating police crimes and abuse are a joke. The number of complaints sustained has been miniscule. The police board and IPRA are made up of cops, former cops and prosecutors. Cops investigating cops–how’s that working out? Only once in the past 20 years has a cop been charged in the killing of an unarmed civilian, and he, Dante Servin was undercharged in the murder of Rekia Boyd. Community support has been building steadily, demanding real community control over the CPD, demanding CPAC. Please visit our website at Stop Police Crimes.com to learn more.
    Steve Craig
    Field Organizer
    Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression

  • Steve Craig

    CAARPRs website on CPAC is stoppolicecrimes.com.

  • See my reports at the following link concerning the horrendous corruption of the criminal justice system by agents, operatives and street thugs of the fbi/police:
    https://ttu.academia.edu/geralsosbee

    Doctors maim or harm patients and falsify medical charts, often on orders from the fbi, lawyers sell out their clients or exploit their adversaries beyond measure, judges are anything but impartial and almost always defer to the fbi on demand, bankers rob their customers while engaging in wall street insider crimes, corrupt legislators enact oppressive
    laws for lobbyists, the SCOTUS rules that police may murder innocent
    suspects fleeing in their cars, merchants exercise extreme
    profiteering wherever they can get away with it at the expense of
    customers, the general population assists the fbi/police in terrorizing innocent people, and cops/fbi….

    …cops are robbers, torturers and murderers:

    http://la.indymedia.org/news/2015/06/268594.php

    Spanish:

    http://barcelona.indymedia.org/newswire/display/497719/index.php

    Thus I write: criminally macabre USA:

    http://www.indymedia.org.nz/articles/3758

    Spanish:

    http://venezuela.indymedia.org/es/2015/06/34969.shtml

    For more specific details in support of the above statements see ”My Story In Detail” in twenty (20) parts.