A state Appeals Court ruling on Tuesday restored a multi-million dollar jury award won by the family of a teen killed by a Chicago Police officer in 2011.
CPD Officer Marco Proano was awarded a commendation for shooting 19-year-old Niko Husband during a struggle with him outside a South Side dance party – the second time Proano had shot someone while on duty that year.
Later that year, a Cook County jury disagreed with the department’s take on the fatal shooting, and awarded Husband’s family $3.5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit.
But hours after the verdict was read in court, Cook County Judge Elizabeth Budzinski reversed the decision, finding that the jurors’ answer to a single question— called a “special interrogatory”— invalidated their verdict.
Seven years later — a span during which Proano would be involved in a third on-duty shooting, and be sent to federal prison for using excessive force — a unanimous ruling by a state Appeals Court restored the verdict and gave Husband’s family some peace of mind, attorney Donald Shapiro said Tuesday.
“They were elated in the court room when they heard the verdict, then in a very short period of time, the judge reversed the verdict and took it away from them,” Shapiro said.
“They feel like by this ruling today, their son is vindicated. He didn’t do anything wrong.”
Husband was leaving the dance party with his girlfriend when he struggled with officers who had shut down the event.
Proano shot Husband as the teen grappled with officers. Proano claimed the teen had pointed a gun at his partner.
Whether Husband had been armed or not was hotly disputed during the civil trial, with several officers testifying that they had seen Husband point the weapon. Partygoers said they didn’t see the gun.
In 2013, Proano fired 16 shots at a carload of teens as they backed away from him in an alley – a shooting that was captured on dashboard camera footage that became key evidence at his trial last year.
Proano was convicted of using excessive force, and sentenced to five years in prison— the first time in recent memory that a Chicago Police officer was sent behind bars for an on-duty shooting.
Federal Bureau of Prisons records show he is assigned to a low-security prison in western Pennsylvania.