No trial scheduled in former officer’s manslaughter case

John Richmeier
Matthew Harrington

No trial has been set in the case of a former Leavenworth police officer who is charged with manslaughter for a 2017 shooting.

In fact, no hearings are currently scheduled in the case of Matthew R. Harrington.

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

Harrington later was fired from his job with the Police Department. 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 2018.

In May, District Judge Michael Gibbens ruled Harrington is not immune from prosecution under state law.

With that issue out of the way, County Attorney Todd Thompson said the next step in the case would be scheduling a trial.

But at this point, it is unclear when a trial may take place because of social distancing concerns related to COVID-19.

“We don’t even have it on the calendar,” Thompson said.

Kansas law grants people immunity from prosecution for the use of force under certain circumstances.

In his written ruling in May, Gibbens concluded Harrington’s “use of deadly force was not statutorily justified and he is not entitled to immunity.” But the judge wrote that a jury can determine if Harrington’s use of deadly force was justified as self defense.

Gibbens has since retired. District Judge Gerald Kuckelman has taken over Gibbens’ former criminal docket.

Harrington remains free on bond.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR