"I want to apologize for this very terrible incident," John Malik, 60, told the youth's family before pleading guilty to manslaughter in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens. "My heart is very broken because of it. I'm very, very sorry for your loss."But that apology was not good enough for the father of Manuel Chametla, who died Oct. 18 hours after Malik fired one round from his licensed semi-automatic pistol into the young man's abdomen. Noe Chametla, Manuel's father, said it was an outrage that Malik would get just one to three years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter. The 29-year New York Police Department veteran originally faced up to 15 years before the plea deal. "He has to pay for it. He killed a human being. He destroyed my family," Chametla said during a news conference Tuesday in Kew Gardens outside the courthouse.City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Jackson Heights), who organized a series of protests when the DA failed to indict Malik on manslaughter charges immediately, welcomed the guilty plea with some reservation."This is obviously a very emotional time for the Chametla family," Monserrate said. "I am pleased that here has been an admission of guilt, but I remain concerned about the time and effort that was needed to get an indictment. Our community should not be forced to demand justice in order to receive it."Malik, who retired in 2002, went to the Astoria Food market at 21-01 31st St. to cash a scratch ticket. Chametla was working the register. The retired detective first told investigators that his handgun discharged when he reached for his pager and it fell from its holster - an account Chametla's lawyer said eyewitnesses refuted."He say to the guy, 'If you don't cash my Lotto ticket, I will kill you," lawyer Jesus Pena told the TimesLedger last year. "He may have been joking, but it's a very bad taste of a joke." Malik admitted before Supreme Court Justice Randall T. Eng that he unholstered his weapon in "horseplay" with Chametla, a Mexican immigrant who took the job at the bodega to support a 2-year-old son back in his native country. "The penalty to be imposed by the court of up to three years imprisonment is both warranted and just," Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement. "The defendant is a retired police officer who pledged to protect life and property and who now bears the awful burden of knowing that his recklessness took a precious human life."Malik will be sentenced June 14. He remains free on $25,000 bail. Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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