Maryland officer gets 5 years in shooting of handcuffed suspect who's now paralyzed

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UPPER MARLBORO, Maryland — A former Maryland police officer convicted in a shooting that paralyzed a handcuffed suspect from the waist down was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison, far less time than prosecutors had requested.

Former District Heights police Sgt. Johnnie Riley, 44, was sentenced in Prince George's County Circuit Court. He could have faced up to 45 years in prison, and prosecutors asked for 20-year sentence.

Prosecutors say Riley shot a handcuffed man in the back in September 2012 after the man got out of a police cruiser and ran away. The injured man, Kalvin Kyle, was left paralyzed from the waist down. Riley had earlier pulled Kyle over on suspicion of driving a stolen motorcycle.

"We respectfully disagree with the judge's sentence in this case," state's attorney Angela Alsobrooks said in a written statement. "Mr. Riley shot Mr. Kyle in the back, while he was handcuffed and had already been searched and deemed not a threat multiple times. For Mr. Riley to only receive a five-year sentence for this sends the wrong message to our community."

Riley's attorney, Allen Wolfe, didn't immediately return a call for comment. He has characterized the shooting as "an action (Riley) took on a fleeing felon who had already been arrested and was escaping."

Riley's life has unraveled since, Wolfe said in September.

Riley, an Iraq war veteran, was convicted in June of assault, using a handgun during a violent crime and misconduct in office. A jury acquitted him of attempted second-degree murder and a judge dismissed an attempted first-degree murder charge against him.

Riley was supposed to be sentenced in September but that was delayed after he tried to attack prosecutors in court when one of them said Riley should be held to a higher standard because of his service in the military and his position as an officer. Riley was sentenced to 30 days in jail in the attempted attack.

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