A deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was charged with manslaughter Tuesday in the shooting of an unarmed civilian outside a gas station.

Sheriff’s Deputy Luke Liu pleaded not guilty in the shooting death of Francisco Garcia, the Associated Press reports. Liu is charged with voluntary manslaughter and his bail was set at $1.1 million. Liu could face up to 21 years in prison if convicted.

It's the first time in nearly 20 years that a police officer in the largest county in the country has been charged in an on-duty shooting.


Prosecutors called the fatal shooting of Garcia “unjustified and unreasonable.”

The incident occurred in 2016 when Liu pulled behind Garcia, who was driving what Liu believed was a stolen car, according to prosecutors. Garcia then drove away at about 5 miles per hour, prompting Liu to run beside the car, firing seven shots at Garcia.

Liu said he was hit by the car during the incident and shot at the driver because he thought Garcia was reaching for something in the backseat.

Prosecutors said they have evidence including multiple witnesses and video of the incident.

Liu was placed on administrative leave Monday by the sheriff’s department.

“The facts will be presented, and the ultimate outcome of the case will be determined in a court of law,” the department said in a statement.

The police union representing Liu said the union stands behind the officer “based on the information that is available.”

The union alleges that Garcia was high on meth and driving a stolen car when he was shot justifiably by Liu.