OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma City police sergeant was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison, more than a month after a jury convicted him of second-degree murder in the shooting death of an unarmed, suicidal man.
Attorneys for Keith Sweeney sought a lesser sentence than the 10 years recommended by a jury in November, but Oklahoma County District Judge Natalie Mai agreed with the jury’s recommendation.
Sweeney was among several officers responding to reports of a suicidal person on Nov. 15, 2017, and found 29-year-old Dustin Pigeon doused in lighter fluid and threatening to set himself on fire in a courtyard.
Prosecutors said Sweeney shot Pigeon after another officer fired a bean bag. An affidavit said Pigeon was unarmed and did not pose a threat when he was shot, and two fellow officers also testified that Pigeon posed no threat.
“I truly believe with every fiber of my being in that moment that Mr. Pigeon had a knife,” Sweeney told Pigeon’s family shortly before his sentencing, The Oklahomanreported.
But District Attorney David Prater told the judge that Sweeney believed he was a “warrior, not a shepherd.” Prater said Sweeney should not have been working as a police officer.
“There is a segment of police officers out there on the street who think and believe that all they are is warriors,” Prater said. “And for whatever reason they lose empathy for those that they should be serving.”