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Ruling: Jury to decide case against Kansas police officer

June 9, 2020 GMT

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A former Leavenworth police officer who fatally shot a man in a vehicle in 2017 cannot claim legal immunity, a ruling that leaves it to a jury to decide whether his actions were justified as self defense.

Leavenworth County Judge Michael Gibbens found that the force used by then officer Matthew Harrington was not statutorily justified as self defense, clearing the way for the involuntary manslaughter case to proceed, The Kansas City Star reported.

Harrington was indicted in August 2018 for the death of Antonio Garcia Jr., who was shot multiple times while sitting in an SUV. Harrington was fired for violating policy.

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The judge ruled in May that a “reasonable person” would not believe use of force was necessary or that the SUV Garcia was in could be considered a weapon.

“Dismissal at this early stage would have been an extremely rare outcome considering the State’s low burden of proof,” defense attorney Morgan Roach said in a statement. “Although we believe dismissal was warranted, we are confident that Matt will be exonerated at trial.”

Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson declined to comment.

Garcia’s family settled in November a wrongful death and civil right’s lawsuit against Harrington and the city of Leavenworth for $1 million.

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