LOS ANGELES - A former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who was originally charged with voluntary manslaughter for the on-duty shooting death of a man in Willowbrook pleaded no contest Friday to a pair of lesser felony charges and was immediately sentenced to two years probation and 30 days in jail.
Andrew Lyons, 39, pleaded no contest to one felony count each of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and assault under the color of authority for the June 16, 2019, shooting of Ryan Twyman, 24. Lyons was taken into custody in court, as members of the victim's family and their supporters applauded.
The voluntary manslaughter charge against Lyons was dropped as part of his plea agreement with prosecutors.
As part of his sentence, Lyons will be permanent barred from owning a firearm.
Lyons had originally been charged with involuntary manslaughter and two felony counts of assault with an assault weapon. His attorneys, Michael Rains and Nicole Castronovo, issued a joint statement after the plea reiterating their contention that the case was a politically motivated attempted by District Attorney George Gascón to appear tough on law enforcement officers.
"From the outset, we have stated this is a case based in politics, not facts," they said. "The facts in this case demonstrate that Mr. Lyons did not kill Mr. Twyman. The dismissal of the voluntary manslaughter charge by the District Attorney's Office underscores this truth. Mr. Lyons has reluctantly agreed to accept a plea in this matter and to end his 15-year law enforcement career out of his belief that it is in the best interest of his family."
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During a press conference Thursday, Gascón said this was the first time in 20 years that the DA's office has prosecuted and convicted a fellow law enforcement officer on charges related to an officer-involved shooting.
"I want to express my sincere apologizes for the profound grief Mr. Twyman's family has endured. I hope that holding sheriff deputy accountable for his actions will bring some measure of comfort," Gascón said, standing alongside Twyman's family.
"Today is bittersweet. I miss him, we all miss him. We miss his smile, his laugh, him chasing dogs around the backyard and his three boys really miss him," said Tommi Twyman, Ryan's mother.
"I was determined to fight to the end, and we did," she added.
The defense previously questioned whether the shots fired by Lyons caused his death, noting that two different deputies fired four fatal rounds at Twyman.
Lyons and another sheriff's deputy responded to an apartment complex in Willowbrook and approached a parked vehicle where Twyman was sitting, with both deputies opening fire after Twyman put the car in reverse, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Ryan Twyman's mother holds a picture of her son.
The car came to a stop nearby, and Lyons allegedly retrieved his semiautomatic assault rifle and shot into the vehicle after it stopped moving, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Twyman was struck by bullets in the neck and upper body and pronounced dead at the scene.
A passenger in the vehicle was not struck by gunfire, but had fragments of glass in his hair and was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center for evaluation.
In an earlier statement posted on Facebook, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the case had been "fully investigated" by the department and that then-Sheriff Alex Villanueva "initiated an administrative review of the case which resulted in Mr. Lyons being discharged from his position of deputy sheriff on November 8, 2021...
"Sheriff Villanueva remains committed to transparently holding our personnel accountable while providing for the safety and security of the communities we serve. Our condolences to Mr. Twyman's family for their loss," the department's Facebook post continued.
The other deputy was suspended for 30 days, Villanueva said.
In 2020, the county paid Twyman's family $3.9 million to resolve a federal lawsuit stemming from the shooting.