- Associated Press - Thursday, June 12, 2014

CONROE, Texas (AP) - A Houston-area police officer has been sentenced to five years of probation for the fatal, off-duty shooting of a 19-year-old suspected of shoplifting.

The punishment of Conroe Sgt. Jason Blackwelder was issued Wednesday, a day after he was convicted of manslaughter in the July death of Russell Rios. A Montgomery County jury recommended the punishment, and Judge K. Michael Mayes agreed.

The 30-year-old Blackwelder had faced up to 20 years in prison.

Blackwelder was with his wife when theft prevention authorities at a Wal-Mart began pursuing Rios. The officer, who was not in uniform, joined the chase into some woods.

Blackwelder has said he opened fire in self-defense after Rios was choking him while trying to flee. The teen was not armed.

Prosecutors say Blackwelder acted in a reckless manner.

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