A former New York City police officer who was acquitted of murder and rape charges in the 2013 death of a black man during a stop for a traffic stop has told the New York Times that he “didn’t think he was going to be called a defense attorney.”
Thomas O’Neill, 39, was acquitted on Wednesday of murder charges in New York state’s case against him and three other officers, but the acquittal came amid mounting criticism of the police department’s handling of the death of Akai Gurley.
The Times reported in March that O’Neil was working for the NYPD at the time of the shooting of Gurley and the shooting death of fellow officer Rafael Ramos.
O’Niell has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.
A jury acquitted him of murder in May, but O’Neal’s attorney has said he believes the case was tainted because of the “racism” of the officers who were charged.
O’Neill was working in the narcotics division in the Bronx when he was fired in March 2015.
A month later, the city attorney charged him with multiple felonies and a misdemeanor count of misconduct in office.
O-Neal’s lawyer, William Kincaid, told the Times he’s hoping to get O’nell reinstated into the police force.
Olivia Darnell, who represented Gurley’s family in the trial, said O’Neills acquittal was a “historic day” for police accountability.
“Justice was done and Mr. Ojeda deserves a chance to return to his duties and be part of the NYPD community, where he is a valued member,” she said in a statement.
“I think this is a great day for all the Gurley family, and for all of the New Yorkers who believe in the justice system.”
Gurley’s mother, Valerie, also told the paper that Ojedas acquittal is a “big step in the right direction.”