Jury finds former District Heights officer guilty of assault for shooting suspect in the back

A former District Heights police officer was found guilty of first- and second-degree assault in connection with a shooting that left one man paralyzed, the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

A Prince George’s County jury found Johnnie Riley, 44, guilty of assault and other charges for the September 2012 incident, in which state prosecutors say he shot a handcuffed suspect in the back as the man was fleeing from police.

The incident began after Riley took Calvin Kyle into custody on the suspicion that Kyle was driving a stolen motorcycle, authorities said. Kyle, who was sitting in a police cruiser, ran from the scene. Riley chased him, firing his gun and hitting Kyle, prosecutors said.

The incident left Kyle paralyzed from the waist down.

“I’d like to thank the jurors for their verdict,” said Kyle in a statement released through his attorney Terrell Roberts. “I feel better knowing Mr. Riley will no longer be a police officer and he won’t be able to hurt anyone else.”

Riley left the department in December 2012, officials said. Last week, he took the stand defending his actions. During the trial, Riley said that he forgot Kyle was handcuffed and feared that if he chased Kyle, he’d be ambushed, according to a report from WJLA-TV.

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said the jury’s verdict prove’s Riley’s actions were unjustified.

“Although you have a man who was a suspected thief, you have him unarmed, handcuffed and barefoot,” Alsobrooks said. “The jury decided what kind of policing is appropriate in our community and they said this is unacceptable and illegal.”

Alsobrooks said the motorcycle theft charges against Kyle were not pursued after authorities determined he bought a stolen motorcycle but did not steal it himself.

A grand jury initially indicted Riley on attempted murder charges. On Tuesday, a judge dismissed one of the charges and the trial jury acquitted Riley of the other.

Riley is scheduled to be sentenced on July 30. He is on a $100,000 bond, authorities said, although prosecutors have requested his bond be revoked.

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Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.
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