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Trial Begins For Police Officer Accused Of Shooting Recruit During Training Exercise

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William Kern
Derek Valcourt 370x278 Derek Valcourt
Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—A Baltimore City police officer faces trial for the training exercise gone wrong that left a police recruit shot in the forehead.

Derek Valcourt reports prosecutors say that officer should be held responsible for carrying his real gun instead of the training weapon he should have been using.

Officer William Kern helped lead a training exercise for new police recruits on Feb. 12 at the site of the old Rosewood Center for the developmentally disabled.

Kern’s defense attorney says the officer witnessed some of the trainees “milling around” after they were instructed not to linger in certain areas.  Kern wanted to fire a warning shot in order to “correct the behavior of the trainees.”  But instead of grabbing his training simulation weapon, he mistakenly grabbed his real Glock service weapon, shooting trainee Raymond Gray in the forehead.

Attorney Dwight Pettit represents Gray in a civil suit.

“He lost an eye. He has immediate recall, but has lost some memory and mental functions,” Pettit said.

Gray won’t be testifying at trial, but other officers there that day will.

Prosecutors intend to prove Kern had  “an unhealthy attachment to his gun,” insisting on wearing it despite training  policies to the contrary– even refusing to surrender his weapon after the shooting.

“Here’s a person who’s been in the force 17 or 18 years and knew the policy, and it appears as though he was taking the position that he was going to carry the gun regardless of what those policies were,” Pettit said.

Kern’s defense attorney will argue it was his duty to keep his service weapon on him during the training at the vacant Rosewood Center because “it was reasonable to arm himself for the safety of him and the other officers.”

Defense attorneys tried to get the case postponed Tuesday morning. A judge said no way.  A jury has been seated.  Opening arguments start Wednesday morning.

Attorneys on both sides say they expect testimony would last up to three days.

Kern faces misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault and reckless endangerment.  If convicted, those charges carry the possibility of up to 15 years in prison.

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