Retired cop cleared in self-defense shooting of estranged son

Mike Szymanski worked in law enforcement for 25 years before retiring, but for the past year he’s fighting for his freedom - and now he's won it back.

Szymanski has been cleared after being charged with attempted murder for shooting an intruder which was his son.

"He’s vindicated. He did nothing wrong - and to some extent, they charged the wrong person," said Todd Flood, Szymanski's attorney. "He acted in self-defense. He shot at an intruder, the tragedy was the intruder was his son."

Steve Szymanski was shot in the stomach and survived but still requires care for his injuries. Meanwhile, the ex-police officer, his father, Mike Szymanski was the subject of a police investigation.

"There would have been two outcomes that night - the one that happened, or I wouldn’t be talking to you right now," said Szymanski.

One year ago on Memorial Day weekend, Szymanski tried to reconnect with his estranged son, 31-year-old Steve Szymanski. But that attempt to build a bridge went sideways fast.

"Alcohol here was a serious problem with his son, he was at .24 and a mean drunk,  Flood said.

Mike Szymanski

Mike Szymanski

A portion of the public who seemingly had made up their mind that he was guilty with protests.

"People feel you are guilty before they even know the facts - it’s devastating," Szymanski said. "People start hearing things, they hear rumors and they latch onto those. And right away, they believe they are true. It was hard to stay quiet and maintain silence with myself and my family."

But Szymanski’s time came during the preliminary hearing - when he got to testify.

"That’s the best decision we could have made to put him up on the stand."

That testimony,  along with The Castle Doctrine - which states you are allowed to confront an intruder in your own home - ultimately led to all criminal charges being dropping in this case.

"You don’t have to find some safe harbor," Flood said. "You can stand your ground and if someone is attacking you, you have the right to use self-defense."

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And now Szymanski is working to rebuild what may be a tarnished reputation.

"We're in the healing phase now. We’ve had hundreds of supporters it’s been ridiculous," he said.

"He has a strong faith and a strong fortitude," Flood said. "He’s been an officer for 25 years. He has what it takes to make it back."

As far as his relationship with his son, he says his son needs help but in this moment "that ship has sailed."