By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A jury Friday afternoon found a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy not guilty of voluntary manslaughter for the fatal, on-duty shooting of man at a Norwalk gas station nearly six years ago.

FILE — L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy Luke Liu is arraigned in L.A. County Superior Court on Dec. 11, 2018, on voluntary manslaughter charges in the shooting death of a driver in Norwalk on Feb. 24, 2016. (CBSLA)

After deliberating since Thursday afternoon, the L.A. County Superior Court jury acquitted Luke Liu in the February 2016 fatal shooting of Francisco Garcia.

Liu, now 42, was charged in December 2018 with the Feb. 24, 2016, shooting of Garcia outside a 7-Eleven at 10962 Alondra Blvd., marking the first prosecution of its type in the county in nearly two decades at the time.

Garcia, 26, had stopped at a gas pump, with the deputy who had been checking vehicle license plates subsequently pulling up behind the white 1993 Acura Integra that had been reported as stolen.

The 26-year-old man tried to drive away at what authorities have said was about 5 mph, was struck by four of the seven shots Liu fired — including two to the lower back and one each to the shoulder area and knee — and crashed into a sign at the station.

After the shooting, Liu pulled the man from the vehicle and performed CPR on him before paramedics arrived. Garcia died at a hospital.

The prosecutor called the shooting “unreasonable,” “unnecessary” and “illegal,” telling jurors that Garcia drove away so slowly that the deputy was able to jog along and “fire over and over again” and that Garcia had no place to go but into rush-hour traffic that was blocking the driveway.

The deputy’s lawyer told jurors that his client wasn’t deliberately acting with disregard for human life but was “protecting his own” and was “acting to stop a threat.”

Liu believed the man might have been reaching for a weapon and felt the vehicle making contact with him or striking him before the shots were fired, Schwartz said in his closing argument.

The defense attorney told jurors that the prosecution has the burden of proving the shooting wasn’t done in “lawful self-defense.”

Sheriff’s officials said shortly after the shooting that the deputy was in fear for his life. They said then that the deputy suffered minor injuries when he was struck by the vehicle.

A doctor who examined Liu after he was taken to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center saw no bruising or injuries of any kind, Baker told jurors as the trial got underway Nov. 3.

Liu, a more-than-10-year veteran who was assigned to the Cerritos Sheriff’s Station, was placed on administrative leave in December 2018. His current status with the department was not immediately available.

L.A. County agreed in 2018 to pay Garcia’s family $1.75 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)