An Oklahoma County judge sentenced Oklahoma City police Sergeant Keith Sweeney on Wednesday to 10 years in prison, the sentence jurors recommended in November after finding him guilty of second-degree murder.
Sweeney was investigated for an officer-involved shooting in 2017 that took the life of Dustin Pigeon, 29, an unarmed and suicidal man.
The sentencing took just under two hours and was emotional for everyone involved.
The victim's family came face-to-face with Sweeney for the first time since the trial. Pigeon's sister read a tearful statement. She said her family still struggles to understand why her brother died by Sweeney's gun.
“There’s no winners here,” said Willard Cully, victim’s cousin. “We’re all deeply saddened by the loss of our loved one of course and again his family is a victim also.”
Sweeney's attorney Gary James fought to have the recommended 10-year prison sentence reduced for the sake of Sweeney's son and wife. James said Sweeney will no longer be able to serve in the United States Navy or as a police officer due to the felony conviction.
The convicted police sergeant even read a letter to Pigeon's family and the judge in a final attempt to stay out of prison.
“We tried to get the court to suspend,” said attorney Gary James. “That’s why I made notes that it’s a deferable sentence.”
The District Attorney argued in court that Sweeney should not have been a police officer at the time of the shooting because he lacked empathy for citizens.
Sweeney was responding as backup to two other officers when he gunned down Pigeon. Both officers testified in court that Pigeon was not a threat to them.
“I hope this is deterrent for the police officers that if this isn’t a job you want to do anymore…and you show up to a place with no sincere [sic] then get out of the job,” ,” said Tesina Halbert, victim’s sister.
At the end of the hearing, the judge followed the jury’s recommended 10-year prison sentence. Sweeney will serve 85 percent of his sentence in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections custody.
“We feel justice is served,” said Cully.
Pigeon’s family is pursuing a civil case against Oklahoma City.