Officer Raphael Lora was sentenced to one to three years in prison for the 2007 shooting death of 41-year-old Fermin Arzu in the Bronx. Lora was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in April for the shooting. In a tearful testimony during the sentencing, Lora said he was sorry for the shooting and the crime and that he will never forget what he did. Lora could have received up to 25 years in prison. He is currently out on $50,000 bail and plans to appeal.
Lora shot Arzu five times after he got into a fight with him. Arzu was driving a minivan on the wrong side of the street on Hewitt Place in Longwood and hit Lora's parked car. Lora said he heard a crash from his home and confronted Arzu with a gun.
Claiming self-defense, Lora claimed that he feared Arzu was going to drag him underneath his car. An investigation reveled that Arzu was under the influence of alcohol. Lora had served on the NYPD force for eight years and used an off-duty weapon during the shooting.
The case was tried before State Supreme Court Justice Margaret Clancy in a bench trial. Clancy was quoted as saying that Lora should've helped Arzu, rather than trying to retaliate against him, which resulted in his death. Reports indicate that Arzu's daughter Katharine Arzu said that Lora's tears were not sincere. The family has filed a civil suit against the city.
"I didn't feel that was really coming from his heart,'' Katharine told the media outside of the Bronx Courthouse."He was just saying that so that they would have remorse for him and give him less time in jail."
"The family feels that there was some measure of justice done for their father's death," said Michael Hardy, attorney for the Arzu family. "You have an officer who is no longer on the police force and can't work in law enforcement again and is a convicted felon."
Hardy added that the verdict and sentencing is proof that things are getting better when it comes to police conviction in brutality cases.
Lora's attorneys said that any incarceration would have been disappointing, according to reports. They are satisfied that Lora will not be in jail while an appeal is being drafted and that there are other issues that are significant to the case. Lora's attorneys also said that the sentencing sends a bad message to police officers.