Former Chicago Police Officer Sentenced in Shooting of Teens
Police violence has become an extremely hot-button topic in recent years, with new examples seeming to make headlines on a regular basis. The issue has been further publicized by the protests during the national anthem by various professional athletes across the country. Advocates for reform maintain that police officers are often granted near-complete immunity from prosecution and bear little to no responsibility for their violent actions. Such was not the case, however, in an Illinois federal courtroom this week as a former member of the Chicago Police Department was sentenced to prison for an on-duty shooting.
Stolen Car Full of Teens
The shooting took place at 95th and LaSalle on Chicago’s South Side in December of 2013. According to court documents, the officer, now 42, arrived on the scene where a stolen Toyota was found packed with at least six teens. In the chaos, the driver of the car fled, and a BB gun fell out of the vehicle. One of the youths in the back seat leaned forward, put the car in reverse, and lunged to push the accelerator with his hands. Reports indicate that there nobody in the expected path of the car.
The remainder of the incident was recorded by a CPD dashcam. The video showed the officer as he stepped forward with his gun drawn. He then stepped back, and the car moved backward into view. The officer lifted his gun with two hands and appeared to fire. Prosecutors later claimed that the officer fired 16 shots at the car in a matter of nine seconds, wounding two of the teens.
Conviction and Sentencing
Following an investigation, the officer was charged in federal court with two counts of civil rights violations. Illinois law justifies the use of deadly force by a police officer when an officer reasonably believes that it is necessary to stop a suspect who “is attempting to escape by use of a deadly weapon.” Prosecutors, however, claimed that the officer behaved “like a cowboy” and that every shot fired was unreasonable and unnecessary. In August, the officer was found guilty and was sentenced this week to five years in federal prison.
The officer’s attorney stated that he believes his client was “sacrificed to the furor” of anti-police public sentiment. The judge rejected that notion, as did acting U.S. Attorney Joel Levin. “He was sentenced for his crimes,” Levin said. “He’s not a scapegoat.”
Have You Been a Victim of Police Misconduct?
While police shootings and brutal acts of violence make headlines, officers can violate a suspect’s rights in many other—often much subtler—ways. Police misconduct may include planted evidence, false testimony, illegal searches, and compromising a person’s right to an attorney. If you or someone you love has been arrested and you think the arresting officer did not behave properly, contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney. Call Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.