The 18-year-old shot by police who responded to a call of a man brandishing a gun late last year at a Buckingham Court residence was found guilty Friday of illegally possessing a firearm.
However, the jury decided Kong Xiong was not guilty of participation in a criminal street gang, a charge that would have added time to his sentence. The jury began deliberations late Thursday and returned its verdicts Friday morning.
Xiong will be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. on June 18 in Courtroom 9. He faces a maximum of three years in state prison, but if the court grants probation, the maximum sentence would be one year in county jail with credit for time served.
After the verdict was read, Xiong turned to his family sitting behind him and gave a slight smile. His family saw the decision as a win and hugged each other outside of Judge Carol Ash's courtroom Friday.
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Jer Thao, Xiong's brother, likened the trial to "going through hell."
"The truth came out," he said outside the courtroom, breathing heavy sighs of relief.
Chou Thao, another brother, said he tried to be emotionally neutral during the trial. Though Xiong has made mistakes, Thao said his brother plans to put that behind him.
"He's going to change his life," he said.
A video recorded by a camera on a police officer's glasses and used as evidence in the trial showed the violent encounter between Xiong and police, who fired a barrage of bullets at Xiong immediately after telling him to put his hands up.
Phoua Moua, Xiong's mother, said it was hard to watch that video, as she stood crying outside the courtroom.
"My son is lucky to be alive," she said in broken English.
Xiong's uncle, 21-year-old Vang Thao, wasn't as lucky.
When police opened fire on Xiong, they inadvertently hit Thao, who was standing behind a wooden fence. He was pronounced dead shortly afterward.
The Police Department cleared the officers, Eduardo Chavez and James Lodwick, of any wrongdoing.
During a police interrogation, Xiong admitted to having a gun and associating with Oriental Troops gang members. Xiong denied that he participates in the gang.
Deputy District Attorney Steve Slocum, prosecutor in the case, said he was gratified that the jury took its time to deliberate. Slocum wasn't sure how the video of the incident affected the jurors and their deliberation.
There were questions of whether the shooting was a distraction to the jury. The video did, however, clearly show a gun on the ground next to where Xiong was laying after suffering a gunshot wound to the leg.
"Even though it wasn't relevant to this particular case, the officer-involved shooting was obviously known to the jurors, and what effect that ultimately had on their decision, I don't know," Slocum said.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or email@example.com.
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