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Officer Gets Deferred Sentence in Training Death

January 15, 2003  | 

A Providence, Rhode Island, police officer who accidentally shot his supervisor to death can avoid prison if he stays out of trouble for five years and meets conditions set by the court.

Joseph Warzycha III, 28, was given a five-year deferred sentence after he pleaded no contest to an involuntary manslaughter charge for shooting Maj. Alister C. McGregor during a training exercise Dec. 27, 2001.

As conditions of the deferred sentence, Warzycha must resign from the East Providence Police Department and cannot apply for any law enforcement job. Another condition of the sentence is that Warzycha cannot carry a weapon.

If he complies with the conditions, the charge will be filed and Warzycha will not have to serve prison time. If he does not meet the conditions, he could be brought back into court and sentenced for manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Warzycha accidentally shot McGregor during a hostage-training exercise in a school-bus lot. According to an investigation, Warzycha, the department's sniper, brought an unchecked rifle to the exercise. Thinking the gun was unloaded, he aimed the weapon at McGregor, seated in a school bus, and pulled the trigger. This occurred during a break in the exercise. The rifle had one bullet in the chamber.

Ian McGregor said in court that while he does not think Warzycha intentionally killed his father, Maj. McGregor, the family believes he is nevertheless responsible for the death.

"There is no greater punishment than having to live with my mistakes," Warzycha said outside the courtroom. "No words can express the deep sorrow I feel at the loss of Major McGregor. He was a father, a husband, a son, a brother, and he was my friend and fellow officer."

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