PHOENIX — The man convicted of killing a police officer nearly a decade ago has been sentenced to life in prison.
Christopher Redondo was sentenced Tuesday after being convicted last month of first-degree murder for shooting and killing Gilbert police Lt. Eric Shuhandler during a traffic stop in 2010.
Shuhandler was shot as he walked from his patrol car back to Redondo's truck after learning that Redondo had an arrest warrant. He had initially pulled Redondo over because his truck had a partially covered license plate.
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for Redondo, who they say was close enough to Shuhandler when he pulled the trigger that it sprayed gunpowder into the officer's eyes.
After the shooting, Redondo led authorities on a chase that lasted 50 miles along US 60 that featured shots fired at pursuing law enforcement officers and debris thrown from the truck in an attempt to disable their vehicles. Redondo and Daimen Joseph Irizarry, who was driving Redondo's truck, ran out of gas in Superior and were both shot before being apprehended.
Irizarry was sentenced to 107 years in prison after being convicted of drive-by shooting and aggravated assault for his role.
In a statement posted to the department's Twitter account, Gilbert police thanked the community for their support throughout the legal proceedings.
"The decision brings closure to our community after nine years of waiting for justice to be served for Lieutenant Eric Shuhandler," Chief Michael Soelberg said in the statement. "The Gilbert Police Department appreciates the continued support from our community. Lieutenant Shuhandler will be missed, but he will never be forgotten."
After nine long years, our community finally has closure. Rest In Peace Lieutenant Shuhandler.💙🖤 pic.twitter.com/Uc2FivcsSA— Gilbert Police Dept. (@GilbertPolice) May 7, 2019
Some family members and friends of Lt. Shuhandler were hoping for the death penalty.
One juror told ABC15 that most of the jurors also wanted to sentence Redondo to death. The juror though, who was in favor of the death penalty, said three of her fellow jurors were undecided and indifferent and three were strongly opposed.
She said before a decision was reached, things got heated.
"We argued, we threw things, we fought with each other over this," said Lisa Lerma, who served for five months on the jury.
Lerma was visibly emotional after the final day in court. She apologized to friends and family of Shuhandler and told ABC15 she believed "justice was not served."
"I’m so sorry that we weren’t able to get there [for the family]," said Lerma, choking back tears and referring to the life in prison sentence instead of the death penalty.