Former Chicago cop convicted of second-degree murder

December 20, 2019 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — A judge on Friday found a former Chicago police officer guilty of second-degree murder in the off-duty shooting of an unarmed man in 2017.

Lowell Houser, who has been on electronic monitoring since his arrest in the shooting death of Jose Nieves, was immediately taken into custody after Cook County Judge William Gamboney’s ruling on Friday morning.

During the trial that ended in October, prosecutors said the off-duty officer shot the 38-year-old Nieves during an argument outside an apartment complex where the victim lived. The then 58-year-old Houser claims he acted in self-defense, saying Nieves made a threatening move.

Houser, a 28-year police veteran who was on medical leave for cancer treatment at the time of the shooting, did not testify. Prosecutors scoffed at the self-defense claim made by his attorneys, with Assistant State’s Attorney Kenneth Goff telling Gamboney that he wished he had a dollar for every case in which a police officer claimed the suspect was a gangbanger who had “reached for his waistband.”

When Houser returns to court next year for sentencing on the second-degree murder charge, he faces a sentence ranging from probation to 20 years in state prison.

In 2018, a jury found former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Earlier this year, a judge sentenced him to just under seven years in prison.