An Oklahoma ex-cop has been convicted of killing his daughter’s boyfriend in a verdict that came after three previous attempts to put him in prison.
Shannon Kepler was off-duty in August 2014 when he shot and killed 19-year-old Jeremy Lake, the young Tulsa man who had been dating his daughter Lisa.
The 57-year-old police officer has said that he was acting in self-defense, saying at trial that he believed Lake had a gun and that “it was either him or me.”
No weapons were found on Lake or at the scene of the shooting. Lake’s aunt said that her loved one was extending his hand for a shake when he was shot.
Three previous trials over the past year failed to reach verdicts on murder charges, with frustration over the resulting mistrials leading to criticism that the juries had a low number of black members.
Lake was biracial but identified as black, and Kepler is white with partial Muscogee Nation heritage, according to the Tulsa World.
Kepler was convicted of manslaughter late Wednesday night after a judge repeated the decision from a previous trial allowing the jury to consider the less serious charge instead of murder.
The jury recommended that he serve 15 years in prison, though sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 20.
Kepler’s attorney said during the trial that Lisa Kepler had run away from home after her father had prohibited her from bringing men to their house.
But prosecutors alleged that the officer wasn’t looking for his daughter when he showed up at Lake’s home, instead planning to “hunt” the girl’s beau.
The defense for Kepler rejected the idea that race had anything to do with the killing.
The shooting took place four days before the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old whose shooting by an officer in the St. Louis suburbs accelerated a national movement against police brutality towards black people.
Kepler retired from the police department after he was charged.
With New Wire Services