Former cop sentenced to one year time served in the deadly shooting of his childhood friend. He was found guilty of menacing, but cleared of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. Credit: Newsday staff

A Nassau County judge sentenced a former NYPD officer who was found guilty of misdemeanor menacing in the 2020 fatal shooting of his childhood friend — but acquitted of homicide-related charges — to 1 year in prison.

A jury found Errick Allen, 31, of North Massapequa, guilty of menacing in late March following a five-week trial but cleared him of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of Christopher Curro.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert Bogle sentenced Allen to the maximum penalty on Tuesday in Mineola, then ordered him released because the ex-officer had been incarcerated for nearly 3 years while awaiting trial. Allen walked out of the courthouse a free man with his stepfather, Kyle Zavas, about 20 minutes after he was sentenced by Bogle.

Zavas and Allen declined to speak to reporters.

Prosecutors from New York Attorney General Letitia James' office told the jury during the trial Allen had executed his friend following an exchange of angry and insulting text messages. Defense attorney Anthony La Pinta argued Curro had attacked Allen and attempted to grab Allen’s NYPD-issued Glock. La Pinta called the case a “classic case of self-defense.”

Allen thanked his family and legal team during brief remarks before sentencing, but did not mention Curro or Curro’s family.

“We wanted to keep this simple today,” La Pinta said after the sentencing. “This five-week trial was emotional torture for everybody and we wanted to keep it unemotional today. Errick is struggling, as you can imagine, and he is trying to piece his life back together.”

The New York Attorney General’s Office, designated by law to oversee all police-involved fatalities, declined to comment on the verdict. Senior Investigative Counsel Jessica Cepriano asked Bogle to sentence Allen to the maximum penalty because the ex-officer had received firearm and de-escalation training at the NYPD academy but brought his service weapon to a confrontation with Curro that ended with the fatal shooting of the 24-year-old.

“The defendant deserves no break or favor from this court,” Cepriano told Bogle.

Allen and Curro grew up on the same block and had been friends since their days at Albany Avenue Elementary School in North Massapequa, according to testimony at trial. Curro’s parents, upset over his chronic cannabis use and angry he was not attending school and not working enough hours, forced him to move out of their home in November 2019, trial testimony showed.

Curro wanted to cut all ties with his family, according to testimony at the trial. Curro’s family was concerned about his well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic and Allen provided regular updates about his friend. When Curro learned Allen had been sharing his text messages with Curro’s family, their decadeslong friendship turned toxic, trial testimony showed.

Allen and Curro agreed to meet on Langdon Road in Farmingdale on May 12, 2020, following a flurry of confrontational and insulting text messages between the two, according to testimony. Prosecutors argued Allen shot Curro execution-style, with two bullets to the head and two others to the neck. A fifth bullet struck Curro’s arm.

La Pinta told the jury Curro had attacked Allen and lunged for his service weapon  and said Allen had been fighting for his life on the day Curro was killed. Curro was unarmed during the encounter.

Curro’s family did not attend Tuesday’s sentencing, but his relatives expressed anger and frustration when the jury acquitted Allen in March. Curro’s mother, Suzanne, told Newsday her son was unarmed during the Langdon Road confrontation.

“I feel awful for them,” La Pinta said of Curro’s family. “They lost a child. They are obviously going to suffer that burden for the rest of their lives. I hope they can manage their lives as best as possible and put this behind them as best they can.”

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