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Jury Finds Officer In Trainee Shooting Guilty Of Reckless Endangerment

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Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — A Baltimore County jury convicts a city police officer who confused his simulation gun with his real gun and shot a colleague.

Derek Valcourt has reaction to the verdict.

The facts in this case were never in dispute. Both sides agreed this was a mistake. The issue before the jury is whether the officer should be held criminally responsible for that mistake. The jury said “yes.”

City police academy instructor William Scott Kern–found guilty of reckless endangerment. Back on February 12, he was teaching police techniques inside the gymnasium at the site of the old Rosewood Center for the developmentally disabled in Owings Mills.

When he saw trainees peering through the window in a door, he decided to scare them by firing a pellet from his blue handled paintball style simulation training weapon.  But instead, he mistakenly grabbed his real gun. The shot struck trainee Raymond Gray in the forehead.

Panicked, Kern call 911.

Kern: “I am an off duty police officer, 200 Rosewood, Owings Mills, Maryland. I’ve got an officer shot in the head.”

911 Operator: “You said someone was shot in the head, sir?”

Kern: “Yes, someone was accidentally shot in the head during a training exercise. I need a medic here now!”

Prosecutor John Cox told jurors a real gun had no place in training exercises and Kern should have known better.

“To me, an accident implies it’s something that nobody has any control over. Officer Kern had complete control over what happened that day and it was only because of his actions that this injury happened,” said Cox.

On the stand in his own defense, Kern broke down in tears as he described the shooting, but insisted he needed to be armed with his real gun for the safety of his students.

“It’s very easy to look at these things in hindsight and say, well, that was a mistake. But the truth of the matter is, as a Baltimore City police officer, you have to be prepared for the worst possible scenario. And that’s what he was doing,” said Shaun Owens, defense attorney.

Kern now faces the possibility of up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in December.

The victim, Raymond Gray, remains in a rehab clinic after suffering some brain damage and the loss of an eye.

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