Oklahoma state prosecutors settled for manslaughter charges instead on the fourth trial, and this week a jury found Kepler guilty and recommended a sentence of 15 years.
Jurors deliberated about six hours before finding ex-Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler, 57, guilty of the lesser charge in the August 2014 killing of 19-year-old Jeremey Lake, who had just started dating Kepler's then-18-year-old daughter, Lisa.
The jury recommended a sentence of 15 years in prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 20.
Lake's death occurred four days before a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on Aug. 9, 2014. Michael Brown's killing touched off months of protests and became a catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement, which decries police violence against minorities and calls for greater transparency from law enforcement officials, especially in cases of officer-involved shootings.
The issue of race had also become an undercurrent in each of Kepler's previous three trials, with only one African-American being selected for each jury and accusations by civil rights activists that Kepler's attorneys were purposely trying to exclude potential black candidates.
Another racial element had been recently added to the case when Kepler argued that he couldn't be tried by state prosecutors because he's a member of an American Indian tribe. A judge determined the fourth trial in less than a year could move forward in state court. Kepler says he's 1/128th Muscogee (Creek).
Kepler's attorneys said the 24-year-police veteran was trying to protect Lisa Kepler because she had run away from home and was living in a crime-ridden neighborhood. Defense attorney Richard O'Carroll said Lisa had been in and out of a homeless shelter after her father forbade her from bringing men home into the house.
A white cop killed his daughter's black boyfriend because he knew he would never be convicted. He was right on that as far of being convicted of premeditated murder, no Oklahoma jury would ever convict a white cop on murder one, a lifetime of police retaliation would be just the least of the jury's problems.
But manslaughter has a different burden of proof, and the jurors were willing to convict on that. Whether or not Kepler ever serves a day in prison based on sentencing, bail and appeal, that's anyone's guess.