TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — It may not have been intentional, but that doesn’t spare a Baltimore City police officer from possible prison time. Not after Thursday night’s verdict against Officer William Kern.
Alex DeMetrick has more on the training accident everyone says shouldn’t have happened, but did.
From department policy to training experts, the loaded gun that Officer William Kern fired had no business being where it was.
There are strict rules about where police do live fire training and where guns aren’t allowed–period.
“No weapons out of the field,” said Robert Oatman, R.L. Oatman & Associates.
But Baltimore Police Officer William Kern did bring his field weapon into the abandoned Rosewood Hospital for a training exercise. Instead of firing a paintball from his simulated weapon, he mistakenly drew his gun and fired a shot through a glass window, wounding police trainee Raymond Gray.
Kern was convicted Thursday evening of reckless endangerment, despite his defense.
“There’s absolutely no question whatsoever that this is an accident,” said Shaun Owens, Kern’s lawyer.
But according to department policy, the gun should never have been there at all.
“There isn’t any police department, both local, state and federal, that doesn’t have very clear policies about having an active duty weapon charged in a training scenario of any kind,” Oatman said.
Former Baltimore County police detective Robert Oatman’s firm specialized in training and tactics for civilian contractors. He says recruit training like this, with a gun scenario, has firm rules.
The first is where a training officer places his service weapon before ever entering the room.
“Locked in your trunk, or there’s a place where they’re maintained. Everybody’s searched and re-searched to make sure these accidents don’t happen,” said Oatman.
But it did happen. And now a veteran officer faces the possibility of up to five years in prison when he is sentenced.
Officer Kern says he kept his weapon to guarantee the safety of the recruits because training took place in an insecure facility–a location and a training operation the department says it knew nothing about.
The criminal verdict is not the legal end of this incident. Raymond Gray’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against Baltimore City and Baltimore County.
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