Man sentenced to seven years for officer death
Thu, 09 Dec 2010 21:07:32 GMT —
Brady Johnson, 23, pled guilty Thursday to involuntary manslaughter and use of a firearm while under the influence. Johnson shot and killed Florence Police officer Matthew Clayton in his home in February.
Less than year after Officer Clayton's death, his family is still grieving their loss.
During the hearing, Clayton's sister Courtney Sloan tearfully explained how much her family's lives have changed since the shooting. "Our lives are forever changed, and I don't think anyone in this courtroom understands what I'm saying. You all don't get it."
Despite Johnson's admission of guilt, the victim's family maintains the shooting wasn't an accident.
"We are forgiving people. We will forgive, but forgiveness requires confession," said Brad Sloan, brother-in-law of the victim.
Prosecutors say on the night of the shooting, Brady Johnson walked into the bathroom with Clayton and was flipping Clayton's own gun in his hand when it went off, hitting him in the back.
Johnson was charged with the lesser crime because officials could not prove malice or forethought.
The defense hoped Johnson would be released with just time served.
"I was hoping, you know, it would turn out better, he would be home with us for the holidays, but you know I know there had to be punishment," said Patricia Johnson, aunt of the defendant.
"This was a complete accident on Brady's behalf, and the judge found it was an accident and accepted a plea of involuntary manslaughter," added Johnson's lawyer, Lee Herron.
Prosecutors say while a sentence of seven years doesn't equal the value of Clayton's life, justice was served today.
Because the victim was a Florence Police Officer, several outside agencies came in to investigate.
There's a federal charge pending, since Johnson was in possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.