Kenneth Furr, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer accused of shooting his service weapon while off-duty at a car of five people, including two transgender women, was sentenced today in D.C. Superior Court to three years’ probation, 100 hours of community service and a $150 fine. Sentencing follows a jury’s October 2012 finding of Furr guilty of one count of assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of sexual solicitation for prostitution.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lara Worm and Natalia Medina argued that Furr should be sentenced to the maximum penalty for brandishing a gun on Aug. 26, 2011, and threatening three of the victims following an altercation at a Chinatown-area CVS, hours prior to the shooting near the intersection of First and Pierce Streets NW. Furr faced up to 60 months in prison for the assault charge and up to 30 days for the solicitation charge.
In her statements during sentencing, Worm blasted Furr’s actions as reckless and a violation of public trust.
”When a police officer commits a crime, it hurts the community, as well as the Police Department” Worm said. ”Mr. Furr’s actions are an extreme embarrassment to the Metropolitan Police Department.”
Worm also read aloud a statement from one of the victims of the shooting. In that letter, the victim said he was disappointed in the jury’s decision finding Furr guilty of trying to solicit sex from one of the transgender women in the group and threatening them with his gun, while not finding sufficient evidence to convict Furr on additional charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, sexual solicitation, and a count of assault with intent to kill while armed. That victim also said in his letter that he had been nervous after learning Furr had been released from prison in October despite the jury finding him guilty on two of the nine charges on which he was initially indicted. The victim wrote that Furr’s release left him fearful to leave his home.
Furr’s lead attorney, David Knight, argued that additional prison time was not necessary for Furr, who had already served 14 months in prison as he awaited trial. Knight said Furr had ”already lost more than most,” given that he is likely to lose his job due to the conviction, along with accrued benefits. Knight told the court that Furr may lose his home due to lost income. Knight also argued that in prison, in order to protect him due to his status as a police officer, Furr was required to spend 23 hours per day in solitary confinement. Knight added that Furr suffered ”public embarrassment” from media coverage of the trial, and that his client should not be held to a higher standard for serving as a police officer.
In sentencing Furr, D.C. Superior Court Judge Russell Canan countered that Furr held the public’s trust and used his service weapon in the commission of a crime. At one point, Canan chastised Furr directly, telling him he was fortunate none of the victims died and that he had started the incident by brandishing his weapon. Canan also took Furr to task for his history of problems related to being under the influence of alcohol. On the morning of his arrest at the scene of the shooting, Furr took a breathalyzer test that measured his blood-alcohol content to be .15, almost twice the legal limit for driving. Worm noted that Furr had problems with alcohol dating back to 1997, leading to a temporary MPD suspension.
But Canan also took into consideration the 14 months that Furr served in prison from the time of his arrest in August 2011 to the day his various convictions and acquittals were issued in October 2012. Canan said that he respected the jury’s verdict that the prosecution had not proven its case on the other, more serious counts stemming from the shooting, and said he believed 14 months in jail was substantial.
Canan then sentenced Furr to 30 days in prison for the solicitation charge, but suspended the sentence. He then sentenced Furr to 60 months in prison for the assault charge, but suspended 46 months of that sentence, leaving the 14 months already served. Canan also gave Furr a suspended sentence with three years of supervised release on the condition that Furr complete three years’ probation, ordering him to perform a total of 100 hours of community service – 50 hours for each count – and fining him a total $150, which will go to the Victims of Violent Crime Fund. Canan also ordered Furr to register as a gun offender and undergo substance-abuse treatment for alcohol and anger-management therapy. Finally, Furr was ordered to avoid the five victims and the downtown area where the incident began.
Furr may appeal his sentence and the jury’s verdict if he files an appeal within 30 days.