OKLAHOMA CITY, Ok. – An Oklahoma City police officer was found guilty of second-degree murder on Monday for his role in the 2017 death of a suicidal man.
Now he’s awaiting his sentence, which could put him behind bars for the next 10 years.
The incident began nearly two years ago to the day in November 2017, when Sgt. Keith Sweeney of the Oklahoma City Police Department responded to the 1400 block of SW 20th Street after reports came in about a suicidal man.
When officers got to the scene, they found 29-year-old Dustin Pigeon acting erratic and threatening to kill himself. Reports claimed that Pigeon had covered himself in a flammable liquid and was planning to set himself ablaze.
According to News 9, Pigeon refused to comply with the officers’ orders and continued to hold onto the lighter and flammable substance.
At that time, Sweeney’s partner, armed with a firearm holding bean bag rounds, opened fire at Pigeon in an attempt to stop greater harm from befalling him. But as Officer Troy Nitzky deployed the less lethal round, Sweeney pulled the trigger on his duty weapon.
Pigeon was struck multiple times and was pronounced dead at the scene.
After an investigation, the District Attorney’s office later concluded that Pigeon was not armed with anything other than the lighter, he did not advance at the officers and did not pose a threat to their safety. Therefore, the death was ruled a murder and charges were filed.
On Monday, the emotional trial came to an end.
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District Attorney David Prater says that Sgt. Sweeney abandoned his training and put everyone at the scene in terrible danger with his actions. He slammed the cop, saying that he needed to be punished for unnecessarily taking the life of a citizen he was sworn to protect.
“The last thing they [police] should want to do is murder a citizen they’re sworn to protect,” Prater said.
Keith Sweeney, Oklahoma City Police Sergeant charged with second-degree murder after shooting and killing a suicidal man, Dustin Pigeon, in 2017, has been found guilty by a jury of his peers. https://t.co/giTTnYFzUk
— True Blue Warriors (@TruBluWarriors) November 5, 2019
During the closing arguments, Sweeney’s attorney thanked the jury for their commitment to justice, especially living in a time where officers have become “an element of society that society has seemed to turn its back on.” The defense had argued that Sweeney acted in accordance with his training, believing Pigeon to be holding a knife and that he and his fellow officer were in significant danger.
It took the jury a period of five hours to deliberate the details of the case and return a verdict of guilty. They jurors recommended a penalty of 10 years in a correctional facility and no fine.
There is no official sentencing date set at this time.
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