PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A judge handed down a ruling today in the trial of a former police officer facing charges in connection with the death of his 5-year-old son.
John Thompson, 39, was found not guilty on charges of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and reckless endangerment.
Thompson’s son, Gavin, died in November of 2010.
According to investigators, the boy used a chair to get into his parents’ closet where he found his father’s police-issued weapon and accidentally shot himself.
During closing arguments earlier this week, the defense attorney said Thompson would gladly give his life for Gavin’s and that the incident has ruined him and his family.
Thompson had worked as a police officer in both Port Vue and Lincoln Borough before the incident.
Thompson’s attorney says although his client was found not guilty, the healing has really just begun.
“This isn’t a case where you smile and you celebrate,” said Anthony Deluca, the defense attorney. “The end result of this is that he lost his son and there is no joy. It’s just like I said, all it is is one piece out of the way in this process.”
Before reading the verdict, the judge said it was a difficult case, but in the end although Thompson was irresponsible he did not commit a crime.
“We have no apologies for bringing these charges. The charges needed to be brought,” Mark Tranquilli, the Deputy District Attorney, said. “In light of the judge’s decision, which was a thoughtful and well-reasoned one, we hope that this stimulates the discourse, the ongoing discourse in Allegheny County and throughout the state about Second Amendment rights and responsibilities that come with those rights.”
Thompson’s wife collapsed in court on Tuesday during the prosecution’s closing arguments. She split her lip on a chair but is otherwise fine.
Thompson chose to have a non-jury trial.
Thompson’s attorney says his client plans to return to work as a police officer.