The June 2009 decision in which former Police Officer Rafael Lora was convicted in a bench trial of second degree manslaughter in the death of an intoxicated motorist, Fermin Arzu, who crashed his van into several parked cars and then dragged the officer who intervened has been overturned by the state’s Appellate Division. Mr. Lora was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison but was permitted to remain free on $50,000 bail pending the appeal.
PBA president Patrick J. Lynch said:
“This was a tragic case on both sides. A family lost a loved one and a dedicated, courageous and caring police officer lost his job and potentially his freedom. We take some comfort in our belief in the system that came to the proper conclusion, although years later, on appeal. It was unthinkable to police officers that using justified force to preserve your own life while protecting your neighbors and your community could result in a conviction for manslaughter.”
Stu London, attorney for Mr. Lora said:
“The guilty verdict against police officer Lora was a shocking decision. We were confident that we had a strong case to argue on appeal and we are very pleased that the guilty verdict was overturned and that Mr. Lora was allowed to remain free on bail pending this decision. We take no joy in the loss of man’s life but firmly believe that the police officer’s actions were proper and justified.”
In overturning the verdict, the court’s decision noted “In evaluating the propriety and reasonableness of the actions by the police, we must take cognizance of the realities of urban life in relations to the dangers to which officers are exposed daily, which often require split-second decisions, with life or death consequences.”
Mr. Lora will seek reinstatement to the NYPD his lawyer said.