WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A judge has sentenced a former policeman to at least three years in prison for what the officer called the accidental shooting of a friend.

The manslaughter sentence came after 31-year-old James Pileggi wept throughout an apology to the victim’s family.

Pileggi was an off-duty Eastchester officer when his 9mm Glock discharged on Nov. 3, 2009, killing Andre Everett of New Rochelle.

Pileggi said he thought the gun was empty. He said he was taking it apart to show Everett a laser sighting device.

The district attorney said Pileggi showed a disregard for safety.

“This defendant was an experienced police officer who worked in two police departments in Westchester County and had repeated training in the use and safeguarding of his firearm,” said District Attorney Janet DiFiore in a statement. “For former police officer Pileggi to claim that the shooting of his friend was an accident and not a conscious disregard for due care and safety is absurd and simply a ploy to avoid accountability for his reckless action, an action for which a jury found him responsible and the court sentence him today.”

Pileggi could have been sentenced to five to 15 years but was sent to prison for three to nine years. He resigned from the police department six days after the shooting.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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