New York Times
May 2, 2012

Man Accused of Pushing Officer to His Death in Brooklyn Is Convicted


A man accused of pushing a police officer to his death from the stoop of a Brooklyn brownstone last year was convicted of manslaughter but acquitted of the more serious charge of murder on Wednesday.

The man, George Villanueva, was being arrested on domestic violence charges in March 2011, when he struggled as several officers were trying to place him in handcuffs. In the process, an officer tumbled over the front railing of the building, falling nine feet and breaking his neck.

The officer, Alain Schaberger, a 10-year veteran of the Police Department who was engaged to be married, was later pronounced dead at Lutheran Hospital.

Prosecutors charged Mr. Villanueva, 43, who has a long criminal history, with murder in connection with the killing and argued at trial that he intentionally killed Officer Schaberger. A defense lawyer for Mr. Villanueva, Kleon Andreadis, argued that other officers bumped Officer Schaberger in the struggle and caused him to fall.

The jury found Mr. Villanueva guilty of the lesser charge of aggravated manslaughter after a weeklong trial in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. He faces up to 30 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 23.

After the verdict was read, Mr. Villanueva’s mother, Josefa, screamed in Spanish that her son was innocent. She was later put in a wheelchair and taken from the courthouse by paramedics.

The president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick J. Lynch, said in a written statement, “We will pursue the case to see that he is given the maximum sentence that the law allows.”

Mr. Villanueva was arrested 30 times over a 12-year period, mostly for burglary-related crimes. He was arrested six times for domestic violence, after women accused him of punches to the head, slams into a wall and death threats.

The struggle that prompted the trial began early on March 13. The police had received a 911 call from a woman in Brooklyn who said that Mr. Villanueva was outside her Boerum Hill apartment and threatening to kill her. The woman, who has not been identified, had taken out a restraining order against Mr. Villanueva. He had already left her apartment when the police arrived, and they then went to his home, where they found him on his stoop.

Mr. Villanueva was also convicted of aggravated criminal contempt for violating an order of protection requiring him to stay away from the woman.