Former officer’s trial scheduled for next year

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
Matthew Harrington

The case of a former Leavenworth police officer who is charged with manslaughter is scheduled to go to trial early next year.

Matthew R. Harrington’s jury trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 31 in Leavenworth County District Court, according to court records.

Harrington, 27, is charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to a July 11, 2017, shooting that resulted in the death of Antonio Garcia Jr., 47. The shooting occurred while Harrington was working as a member of the Leavenworth Police Department.

The date for Harrington’s jury trial was selected as the defendant appeared in court Friday through the Zoom online videoconferencing service, according to court records.

Zoom is being used for many court proceedings in Leavenworth County District Court because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harrington was fired from his job with the Police Department in January 2018. Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens accused the former officer of violating a policy that governs deadly force.

A Leavenworth County grand jury indicted Harrington on the manslaughter charge in August 2018.

The following year, relatives of Garcia reportedly settled a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit against the city of Leavenworth and the former police officer for $1 million.

Last year, District Judge Michael Gibbens ruled Harrington is not entitled to immunity from prosecution under state law. Gibbens left it up for a jury to determine whether Harrington’s use of deadly force was justified as self-defense.

Gibbens has since retired and the case is now assigned to District Judge Gerald Kuckelman.

During Friday’s court appearance, Harrington entered a not guilty plea, according to court records.

Five days will be set aside for the jury trial.

Harrington remains free on bond. Court records indicate he lives in another state.

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