Cook County prosecutors announced Tuesday that Chicago Police Officer Gildardo Sierra (pictured), who was caught on video shooting an unarmed man 16 times, will not face criminal charges. Prosecutors determined that was Sierra justified in firing the victim, Flint Farmer, multiple times after reasonably mistaking Farmer’s cell phone for a gun, reports ThinkProgress.
Farmer was Sierra’s third shooting in only six months, with Sierra remaining on the job. Despite ruling Farmer’s shooting justified, the Chicago Police Department’s Superintendent Garry McCarthy told the Chicago Tribune that Sierra should have never been allowed back on the street after the two previous shootings. McCarthy claims the department has no way of tracking officers’ shooting records.
The heart-wrenching video capturing Farmer’s murder showed the victim lying on the ground bleeding as Sierra shot three bullets in to his back. An autopsy eventually determined those same three shots to be the cause of Farmer’s death.
Sierra later admitted that he drank “multiple” beers before going on duty that night; however, because the city waited five hours after the shooting to issue a breathalyzer test, there was no way to tell if Sierra was impaired during the time of the shooting.
Since police officers are allowed to shoot if they fear for their lives, it makes it nearly impossible for prosecutors to put cops away for unreasonable force.
A 2007 study by University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman found that a mere 19 out of 10,149 complaints against officers — including excessive force, illegal search, racial abuse, sexual abuse, and false arrests — led to a one week or more police suspension.
The odds are clearly stacked in their favor.
Individual officers like Sierra are protected by damages claims in civil court through “qualified immunity,” which is then left to be paid by tax payers. While Sierra walks away a free man, Chicago taxpayers are stuck paying the tab for the $4.1 million civil lawsuit against the city over Farmer’s death. Chi-town has already doled out nearly $50 million in settlements from years of police violence, most recently a $8.5 million settlement on behalf of an officer who shot a teen in the back.
From the cops to local gangs, the city of Chicago just can’t seem to get a grip on its gun violence.