Defendant maintains he didn’t push Brooklyn cop to death in Boerum Hill
JAY STREET (AP) — A man convicted of manslaughter for shoving a Brooklyn police officer to his death during a domestic violence call last year will spend at least decades in prison.
Yesterday Kings County Supreme Court Justice Neil Jon Firetog sentenced George Villanueva, 42, to 28 ½ years to life in prison.
On may 2, Villanueva was also convicted of criminal contempt. He was acquitted of a more serious murder charge. The prison term also includes a charge for violating the order of protection that touched off the incident.
Villanueva said at his sentencing Wednesday that he is innocent. He said if he'd known the officer was going to fall, he would have helped him.
Officer Alain Schaberger, a 10-year veteran who worked at the 84th Precinct in Downtown Brooklyn, was responding to a domestic violence call made by Villanueva's girlfriend. During the incident at the girlfriend’s Boerum Hill home, Schaberger toppled 9 feet from a front-door stoop, breaking his neck.
The prosecution argued that Villanueva intentionally pushed the officer when he had attempted to handcuff Villanueva. The defense countered that Schaberger fell after his partner accidentally bumped into him.
Villanueva had been indicted last year on 41 counts for past domestic violations involving his girlfriend — including tampering with a witness, coercion and stalking.
“He said he’s going to kill me, he said he’s across the street and he’s going to kill me,” Villanueva’s girlfriend said in the original 911 call.
Villanueva allegedly had assaulted his girlfriend on numerous occasions and threatened to kill her, as well as demanded that she didn’t testify against him.
Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said Schaberger made “the ultimate sacrifice” and urged a maximum penalty for Villanueva.
Villanueva had 28 prior arrests, mostly for robbery and burglary, and was released from prison in 2005.
“This morning’s tragic events show how quickly an altercation can turn deadly, for both victims of domestic violence and the officers responding to these calls,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said on the day of the incident.
Leslie Lewis, Borough President Marty Markowitz’ criminal justice coordinator, says that over the years, experience has shown that the most dangerous situations for police officers are domestic violence disputes and car stops.
—The Associated Press, and Ryan Thompson of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle