Leavenworth, KS – A now-former Leavenworth police officer who fatally shot a man armed with a knife in 2017 was found not guilty by a jury.
Former Leavenworth Police Officer Matthew Harrington was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter on June 8 in connection with the July 11, 2017 fatal officer-involved shooting of 47-year-old Antonio Garcia, the Associated Press reported.
The acquittal came on the heels of an earlier trial in April, during which a jury deliberated for four-and-one-half hours without coming to a decision, KCTV reported.
Harrington’s two-day retrial began on June 6.
“All we can do is put the best case forward and let the jury decide,” Leavenworth County District Attorney Todd Thompson told The Kansas City Star. “We had a grand jury indict with these facts. We had a jury … get split down the middle on whether he’s guilty or not. So, we felt like there was a case to be presented, and we gave another jury that opportunity.”
Harrington’s attorney, Mike Nichols, said acquitting his client was the appropriate decision in this case, The Kansas City Star reported.
“We’re obviously very pleased with the verdict,” Nichols told the paper. “It was the right decision but there’s no question that everyone involved wishes that day had turned out differently.”
The series of events leading up to the fatal officer-involved shooting began when Officer Harrington received a report of a domestic disturbance involving a stolen vehicle, according to The Kansas City Star.
The Leavenworth Police Department (LPD) said Garcia left the scene prior to Officer Harrington’s arrival, but that he returned a short while later, WDAF reported.
Bodycam footage showed Officer Harrington requesting to have another officer respond to the home just before he stepped outside of the house to make contact with Garcia, who was sitting behind the wheel of an SUV parked in the driveway.
“What’s up man?” he asked as he made his way over to the SUV. “So, what’s going on?”
Officer Harrington opened the driver’s door of the vehicle to speak with Garcia, who quickly yanked the door closed, the video showed.
“Hey, don’t do that,” the officer warned as he tried to pull the door open again.
He told Garcia that he needed to “investigate a crime” and to open the door.
That’s when he realized the suspect was holding a knife, the video showed.
“Put that knife away!” Officer Harrington ordered as he stepped back and drew his duty weapon. “Put that knife away.”
The officer tried to open the driver’s door again as the engine revved and Garcia pulled forward abruptly, the video showed.
Garcia ignored his ongoing commands and revved the engine again just before Officer Harrington fired at him multiple times.
Bodycam footage showed the SUV rolling backwards into the street as Officer Harrington radioed, “shots fired.”
The LPD fired Officer Harrington in 2018 after an internal investigation determined he violated the department’s use-of-force policies, according to the Associated Press.
Garcia’s family sued the City of Leavenworth in the wake of the shooting and landed a $1 million settlement, KCTV reported.