NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Newport News police sergeant has been found guilty of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a man in 2019.

On Thursday, a jury found 35-year-old Albin Pearson guilty of manslaughter in the death of Henry “Hank” Berry III. Pearson was initially charged with second-degree murder. Jurors deliberated for about 2-and-a-half hours.

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Pearson and three other officers responded to Berry’s Nantucket Place home in late December 2019 for his alleged abuse of the 911 system.

They had no arrest or search warrant, and Berry, 43, refused to come outside his home. Police body cam videos of the interaction show when he tried to close his front door, the officers entered and tried to arrest him.

A struggle followed, and Berry got control of a taser. That’s when Pearson shot Berry in the back and he died in his living room several minutes later.

Judge Margaret Poles Spencer ruled Wednesday that the officers’ entry into Berry’s home and their attempt to arrest him were both unlawful, and she mentioned that in her instructions to the jury.

In closing arguments, Commonwealth’s Attorney Rhonda Spady said Pearson had plenty of time to get a warrant before he and three other officers came to Berry’s door that night because Pearson and Officer Dwight Pitterson had been there four hours before.

Spady said even though Pearson took life-saving measures once he had shot Berry, that did not excuse his crimes.

Defense attorney Tim Clancy repeated Pearson’s testimony from Wednesday when the 15-year veteran told the jury he had no other option but to shoot Berry once he wrestled a taser away and pointed it at two police officers. Both taser loads had already been fired, but the device has a close-contact option that was still operable.

Clancy described Berry as a “troubled soul, who was paranoid, irritable and confused”. Clancy had argued a “defense of others” theory that he claimed justified Pearson shooting Berry.

“This was contempt of cop,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jefferson James told the jury. “Police are not entitled to special consideration. We shouldn’t expect unlawful conduct from them.”

The jury of seven women and five men convicted Pearson of manslaughter and a misdemeanor trespass charge. They found him not guilty of assault & battery and three felony gun charges.

The manslaughter conviction carries a prison term of from one to 10 years. Pearson remains free pending his sentencing on December 9. Judge Spencer increased his bond from $200,000 to $275,000.

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