Jury finds ex-Leavenworth officer not guilty in 2017 killing of Antonio Garcia

Leavenworth body camera footage 2017 officer-involved shooting
Posted at 5:07 PM, Jun 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 23:17:57-04

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — An ex-Leavenworth officer won't serve time in prison, after a jury found Matthew Harrington not guilty during his second trial for shooting and killing Antonio Garcia in 2017.

He didn't make any comments leaving the courtroom Wednesday evening after the verdict was read.

However, his attorney Mike Nichols, argued Harrington was acting in self-defense when he shot Garcia.

At the time, Harrington was on a call of a stolen vehicle stemming from a family dispute when he spotted a knife on Garcia.

"It is so much information that's being processed all at one time," Nichols said during closing arguments. "So many people's safety is being involved all at one time and he has to make the decision not in the course of two days, he had to make it right there."

But the prosecutor told the jury Harrington went over the line.

"What you do have though, is officer Harrington, he saw the knife," Shawn Boyd, deputy county attorney for Leavenworth, said. "He got scared. He overreacted. He panicked and he shot. That is not enough for self-defense."

This is the second trial for Harrington on the involuntary manslaughter charge.

The first jury was previously unable to reach a verdict in Harrington's previous trial in April.

This time jurors deliberated for almost three hours — at one point asking to re-watch video from Harrington’s body camera.

Leavenworth Police Department Chief Pat Kitchens released snippets of the body camera footage from the incident after the mistrial two months ago.

Parts of the footage show Harrington approaching Garcia as he sat inside of his SUV.

Moments later, Harrington can be heard telling Garcia to put a knife down before the SUV moves forward.

Harrington then raises his gun and shoots Garcia, killing him.

"Here we don't look at it as whether it's right or wrong," Todd Thompson, Leavenworth County Attorney, said. "We just look at as given to the jury, and the public the opportunity to be able to look at the facts here, the facts on both sides and make a decision."

If Harrington wanted to, he can still continue a career in law enforcement, but the county attorney said this case would pop up during a background check.

As Harrington's life continues, Garcia's family is distraught the way it all ended.

" I mean, one of the things you have to think about in all this is someone lost a loved one, Thompson said. "I mean, no matter what the cause is, someone lost a loved one. And it's heart wrenching."