Dallas County

Former Farmers Branch Officer Sentenced to 10 Years in Murder Conviction

Former officer Ken Johnson also faces 10 years probation for aggravated assault, judge says

Ken Johnson, the former Farmers Branch police officer found guilty last month of murder and aggravated assault in the shooting of two teens, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The judge announced Tuesday that Johnson also faces 10 years probation for the aggravated assault conviction.

Johnson, 37, did not testify during the trial but spoke to his victims' families during the sentencing phase of his trial Monday and expressed his regret over the shooting.

"My stomach, every day, just turns. It's tragic on both families. It's been tough. I'd like to say to Mr. Cruz's family, I'm sorry, I'm very sorry. Every day is tough. It's tough for me, but to bury your son is I know is tough," Johnson said. "I'm very, very, very, very remorseful and I really mean that."

Johnson said he was "pretty upset" when he saw his car being broken into and that he simply reacted. He said he fired on the teens because he was concerned he was about to be fired upon.

"When he reached down, he took his hands off the steering wheel and reached down, that's when my heart jumped out of my chest," Johnson said. "I just fired. I didn't want him to come back up and shoot at me."

Cruz's mother and sister both testified on behalf of their family, through an interpreter, asking Johnson to imagine what it's like to bury a child while telling the jury Johnson killed their son.

"This man took away his life -- he killed him," Ana Henriguez, Cruz's mother said.

Johnson was off-duty March 13, 2016, when he saw two 16-year-olds, identified as Jose Cruz and Edgar Rodriguez, stealing car seats from his SUV, prosecutors said. Johnson chased the teens in his SUV, eventually crashing into their vehicle. Johnson then ran toward their car and fired 16 shots as he approached, prosecutors said.

Cruz was fatally wounded. Rodriguez was seriously injured.

Johnson, who pleaded not guilty, resigned from the police department shortly after the shooting. His defense attorney told jurors the off-duty officer feared for his life after seeing Cruz, inside the car, reach for something that he thought may have been a weapon.

Neither teen was armed.

The jury began deliberating Johnson's punishment Monday afternoon. After about 90 minutes the deliberations were suspended and resumed Tuesday morning.

In a statement released after the verdict, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said, "We are grateful for the sacrifices our law enforcement officers have made by choosing this noble profession. But it is important to remember, when an officer commits a crime, he too has to be held responsible for his actions. The criminal justice system must be blind to her defendants. We will continue to pray for Mr. Cruz’s family and Mr. Rodriguez and his family. We are also praying for Mr. Johnson and his family as well. We hope that this outcome is another step towards healing for everyone involved."

NBC 5's Kevin Cokely contributed to this report.

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