Leavenworth officer fired for violating policy in deadly shootin - KCTV5

Leavenworth officer fired for violating policy in deadly shooting

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On July 11, Officer Matthew Harrington shot and killed a man after an altercation that stemmed from a stolen vehicle report in the area of Rose and Pennsylvania Streets. (KCTV5) On July 11, Officer Matthew Harrington shot and killed a man after an altercation that stemmed from a stolen vehicle report in the area of Rose and Pennsylvania Streets. (KCTV5)
Officer Matthew Harrington shot and killed a man on July 11 after an altercation that stemmed from a stolen vehicle report in the area of Rose and Pennsylvania Streets. (Leavenworth Police Department) Officer Matthew Harrington shot and killed a man on July 11 after an altercation that stemmed from a stolen vehicle report in the area of Rose and Pennsylvania Streets. (Leavenworth Police Department)
LEAVENWORTH, KS (KCTV) -

A Leavenworth police officer has been fired after officials say he violated the department policy that governs the use of deadly force after shooting and killing a man last July.

Officer Matthew Harrington arrived at the home near Rose and Pennsylvania on July 11, 2017. The call initially was for a stolen vehicle, but police say when they arrived, circumstances changed and it was a domestic violence call.

“At some point, he had an encounter with Antonio Garcia in the driveway. As I've put in the press release, he was shot and killed,” Police Chief Patrick Kitchens said.

Garcia, 47, was inside the vehicle, which was parked in the driveway when Harrington approached. During the encounter, it was determined that Harrington fired his duty weapon, which struck and killed Garcia.

The police department initiated a professional standards Investigation to determine whether Harrington was in compliance with the department policy that governs the use of deadly force. 

Police aren’t releasing much else regarding what happened that evening. While their investigation into professional standards has finished, the Leavenworth County Attorney’s criminal investigation continues.

“The other investigation needs to take precedence now. That needs to play out and get some kind of conclusion and then we might be able to talk about that,” Kitches said.

That investigation was concluded on Jan, 19.  Kitchens reviewed the contents of the investigation and concluded that Harrington violated the policy. Harrington was terminated on Friday.

“Is what you did reasonable based on the facts and circumstances? That's the standard that we try and apply,” Kitchens said.

"While this incident is a tragedy for all involved, Officer Harrington's actions were consistent with his department's use of force policies and procedures. He took reasonable and necessary action to protect himself from imminent danger. Officer Harrington disagrees with the decision to discharge his employment, but is confident his name will eventually be cleared," said an attorney for Harrington in a written statement.

Police would not say if Garcia was armed or what lead to Harrington drawing his weapon. Harrington had been with the Leavenworth Police Department for two years.

Heather Garcia, 41, of Leavenworth, was also arrested during the incident for interference with a law enforcement officer; concealing, destroying or altering evidence and criminal damage to property. She is the wife of Antonio Garcia.

Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said the criminal investigation is independent of the Leavenworth Police Department’s investigation, due to it being an internal investigation. The case his office is reviewing is handled by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation as well as an independent expert. 

"The standard for terminating an employee based on upon professional standards is also a much lower burden than the burden used to charge and/or convict someone of a crime. We have an ethical duty to do our best to fully vet a matter before we file charges on anyone," Thompson said.

Thompson said he hopes to have the investigation wrapped up soon but an actual date is unknown at this time.

Garcia’s family says the decision to fire Harrington does little to console them. They also released a statement, saying in part, “the decision was proper, but alone is not sufficient. The families demand that the attention now focuses on punishing this homicide and preventing other similar unjustified acts in the future.”

Police say there is body camera footage of the incident but are not releasing it pending the investigation.

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