The police officer responsible for the accidental shooting of a police academy trainee during a training exercise was convicted last month for his role in the accident. (For information regarding the civil lawsuit, see this blog post). The accident occurred during a simulation, when the officer drew his live gun, rather than the proper (harmless) simulation weapon.
Although the accident was reportedly unintentional, the verdict apparently hinged on the fact that the defendant should not have had his weapon “out of the field,” and in any event, any weapons used in training exercises are not supposed to be “live” or loaded with ammunition.
In this case, a training exercise in a police academy, the defendant brought his weapon into the simulation, which was conducted in an abandoned hospital. Then, when it was time to draw a weapon, rather than grabbing the simulated weapon, which was loaded with paintballs, he instead mistakenly drew his gun, firing a shot through a glass window, and injured an academy trainee.
The officer was convicted of reckless endangerment. Although the officer maintains it was an accident, and by objective measures it seems to have been, the culpability hinges on the fact that he brought a weapon that he should not have. Had he not had the gun on his person, he wouldn’t have been able to make the same serious mistake. He reportedly faces up to five years in prison at sentencing.
The officer claims that he had his weapon in order to guarantee the safety of the recruits, because the training took place in an insecure facility, with which the department apparently did not have prior experience.
The civil lawsuit that the victim filed is entirely separate from this criminal verdict. In many cases, such as this one, the person who acted in an allegedly negligent way may face both criminal and civil liability. The difference between the two is that the criminal system is intended to punish the wrongdoer, whereas the civil system is intended to compensate the victim for the injuries sustained.
This case is a good example of negligence liability, because it shows how individuals who may have meant no harm may still be liable for their actions when those decisions lead to the injury of others. In this case, for example, it is not relevant that the officer did not intend to draw the live gun, because his choice to bring the live weapon into the simulation was the initial negligent behavior. We look to whether a reasonably prudent officer would have acted the same way, and the evidence presented at trial apparently shows that he or she would not have. Department policy, and the policy of other state and federal law enforcement officers, reportedly repeatedly demonstrate that officers should not bring live field weapons into simulation environments.
If you or a loved one has sustained a personal injury as a result of someone else’s negligence in Maryland or Washington D.C., consult the experienced negligence attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers. Our Maryland personal injury accident attorneys have extensive experience in helping victims who have suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence recover the damages to which they are entitled. Let us focus on the legal aspects of your recovery, so that you can focus on the physical and emotional. Contact us today in order to schedule your free initial consultation. You can reach us through our website, or by calling 1-800-654-1949.
More Blog Posts:
Negligence Lawsuit Filed Following Movie Theater Death of Man with Down Syndrome, Maryland Accident Law Blog, published October 18, 2013
Baltimore County School Bus Flips in Single Vehicle Accident, Maryland Accident Law Blog, published October 11, 2013