Man gets 14-year prison term in death of Chandler policeman

The drunk driver who struck and killed a Chandler police officer last year cried and asked for mercy at his sentencing on Friday.  Brian Yazzie has taken responsibility for his deadly actions.

The 32-year-old pleaded no contest to one count of second degree murder and was sentenced to 14 years in prison and seven years probation.

In court, he gave an emotional statement, expressing his regret, remorse and shame.

David Payne was a motorcycle officer with the Chandler Police Department who dedicated his life to saving people's lives from drunk drivers -- ultimately lost his own life to a drunk driver.

Yazzie's blood alcohol level was .326 percent -- nearly three times the legal limit when he rear-ended Officer Payne as he was stopped at a red light on October 31, 2014. Yazzie was also driving on a suspended license.

In court, Yazzie begged for mercy.

"I truly do understand the ramifications of my actions and that bad choice I made cost a good man his life," he said.  "So I stand here before you a young man that has once again been given the opportunity to express his regret and shame to the court."

Superior Court Judge Warren Granville heard tearful impact statements from both Officer Payne and Yazzie's families.  The courtroom was filled as several Chandler police officers were also present.  In the end, Granville told Yazzie that true justice in this case, could not be served.

"People talk about justice.. justice is your car wouldn't start that day.. we can't do that.. justice is you swerved around when he jumped out of the way, but you didn't do that."

He sentenced Yazzie to 14 years in prison -- nearly the maximum sentence and seven years probation.

"I give myself to the mercy of the court," Yazzie said.  "Mr. and Mrs. Payne, I admire your son and what he stands for each and every day. I really do and I'm sorry for the damage I have caused you and your families."

The Maricopa County Attorney says the sentence cannot replace the life that was taken, but it underscores the court's determination to hold accountable those who make the senseless decision to drink and drive.


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