Baltimore Police Commissioner Speaks First With WJZ About Training Officer Indictment
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — New developments in the case of a Baltimore City officer arrested for shooting a police recruit. The commissioner is now speaking about the impact of the tragedy.
Mike Hellgren has the commissioner’s first interview since one of his officers was formally charged.
He says he’s still troubled by the incident, but he is determined to make sure his department learns from it.
Officer William Scott Kern is now free on bail after being arrested and charged with second-degree assault and reckless endangerment.
Sources say he mistook his training weapon, which doesn’t have real bullets, with his loaded service weapon and fired at Raymond Gray–a police recruit with the University of Maryland Baltimore–who was training with city police.
The bullet hit Gray in the head.
This is the commissioner’s first interview since the indictment.
“I was at his bedside many nights praying for his recovery and speaking with his family. But it’s also painful to Officer Kern, the other officers involved and the command staff in this police department, and I think it’s tragic for all of us,” Commissioner Anthony Batts said. “It is something I take very seriously, and it’s going to be the driving force that helps me to make the differences in this organization so that no one has to go through this again.”
The shooting happened at the old Rosewood Hospital in Owings Mills.
WJZ’s investigation revealed it was not authorized for city police training. Top brass didn’t even know it was going on, leading to a top-to-bottom review.
Hellgren: “Are you pleased with the progress that’s been made on reforms in the training process?”
Batts: “We have taken some very significant steps in a short amount of time. I think that what’s going to come out of this is how do we use weapons in our daily interaction with the public in the community, and making sure we’re accountable and that we’re policing in a constitutional way.”
Batts confirmed he’s putting an internal affairs investigation into Officer Kern on hold until the criminal case is settled.
“The State’s Attorney from Baltimore County, he and I we spoke on the phone. We discussed that. That was a collaborative decision that came from both of us,” he said.
Kern faces up to 15 years in prison if he’s convicted.
Officer Kern has been with the department for 18 years.
Gray–the victim in this case–does not remember being shot.