Chicago Cop Cleared in Shooting of Unarmed Man, His Third Shooting in Six Months, City Already Settled With Family for $4 Million

shot by copEarlier this year, the city of Chicago
with the family of Flint Farmer, who was shot by
Officer Gildardo Sierra in June 2011, for $4.1 million but made no
admission of guilt. Sierra fired 16 rounds, hitting the unarmed
Farmer seven times. It was Sierra’s third shooting, and second
fatal shooting, in six months. The officer admitted to having been
drinking before coming into work. A dashboard cam caught
of a part of the shooting, which appeared to show Sierra
shooting Farmer in the back as Farmer lay on the ground. At the
time the city’s police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, said the
shooting was a “big problem” and that the department shouldn’t have
sent Sierra back on the streets after the first two shootings.

Nevertheless, prosecutors cleared Sierra in the Farmer shooting,
accepting the officer’s claim that he feared for his life and
insisting the situation was more complicated than the video
Via the

Chicago Tribune

The prosecutors said although the videotape of the
shooting was damning, showing muzzle flashes and suggesting Sierra
stood over Farmer as he shot him in the back, the continued
investigation yielded forensic and other evidence that led the
prosecutors to conclude that the incident was more complex.

“The video is actually somewhat maddening,” [Assistant State’s
Attorney] Trutenko said. “It’s why we run out every ground

Proscutors said the fact Sierra admitted to drinking “multiple”
beers before coming to work, after lying about it, wasn’t crucial;
police didn’t test Sierra for alcohol until at least 5 hours later,
and say he got a zero. Sierra says he mistook a burgundy cellphone
he says Farmer, who fled from police after a domestic disturbance
call, pointed at him. Prosecutors s ay they found evidence to back
Sierra’s story.
Via the Tribune again

Prosecutors pointed to several key pieces of evidence
in deciding against charging the officer. One was a wound to
Farmer’s right hand that suggested he was pointing his arm at
Sierra when he was shot. Prosecutors believe that was one of the
first shots, if not the first, to hit him. In addition, DNA tests
showed that blood on Farmer’s phone was his, suggesting he was
holding the phone when shot. The other shots followed, with the
last three hitting Farmer in the back.

Prosecutors said their investigation showed that all 16 shots — all
that Sierra’s Sig Sauer semi-automatic handgun could hold — were
fired within 4.2 seconds as Sierra moved laterally from the street
to the sidewalk, the gun ejecting the spent shells as he moved.
That allowed prosecutors to chart a probable sequence of events and
also to understand that Sierra was reacting rapidly under dark and
difficult conditions.

Sierra told investigators he feared for his life because he
believed Farmer had a gun. Under state law, police officers can
continue firing at a suspect until they believe the threat has

Illinois has some of the strictest gun control laws in the
country, yet its rules of engagement for police aren’t. It’s a
tacit admission that its gun control laws don’t work, allowing cops
to keep shooting based merely on their belief of a threat.

Coupled with the job security provided by generous public union
contracts (Sierra will likely remain on the job, if not in the
streets), the permissiveness toward police shootings can breed a
highly aggressive attitude among police officers, as witnessed with
Sierra.  The city of Chicago set aside a whopping $27 million
in taxpayer money to settle police brutality claims in 2013, and

through that money by March.
At the same time
, the police union was demanding a 12 percent
pay raise and bonuses for having to live in the city of Chicago,
while the police department said it couldn’t afford to respond to
every 911 call.

The justice system, then, defers to police officers in cases of
deadly force, while the police union restricts the department from
taking the kind of severe disciplinary measures that might increase
the perceived cost to the police officer of doing something like
firing 16 rounds in 4 seconds. As it stands, the costs are
shouldered by the victims, and in the case of settlements, by the
taxpayers too.

from Hit & Run

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