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Drunk-driving ex-officer sentenced to 5 years for teen death

Hartford, Connecticut residents may remember the drinking and driving accident involving an off-duty police officer that struck and killed a 15-year-old boy on his bicycle 2 years ago. This week, the officer was sentenced to 5 years in prison by a Hartford Superior Court Judge as part of a plea bargain for the 26-year-old former officer who pleaded no contested to second-degree manslaughter and evidence tampering.

The plea bargain comes after a personal injury wrongful death suit against the defendant officer and a former tavern owner. They settled for $420,000.

At the time of the accident, the off-duty officer had been drinking for several hours and was traveling at over 70 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone when he struck the 15-year-old who was riding home from his friend's house around midnight in October of 2010. Though the officer apologized and his lawyers argued that he will always live with his guilt, the family prepared a statement calling the officer "selfish and cold-hearted."

According to the family, the victim was respectful, very loved, and never lied or stole. He was a newspaper boy since he was 13 so that he never had to ask his family for money. At the sentencing hearing, the family played a slide show of photographs with a screen next to the defendant.

In addition to the 5 year sentence, he will also be banned from using alcohol and drugs and will be subject to random urine testing. Many still believe that the sentence was not enough. A state police investigation also found that the father of the driver, also an officer, took his son from the crash site to the police station as many as three times. The father later prevented an investigating officer from getting a blood sample while his son was being treated at the hospital.

Source: Associated Press, "Ex-officer gets 5 years in prison for fatal crash," Dave Collins, Aug. 27, 2012

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