BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Baltimore City police officer will spend time in jail for shooting a University of Maryland police recruit during a training exercise.
Mike Hellgren spoke to the victim’s family about whether they feel justice has been served.
Baltimore City police officer William Kern apologized for accidentally grabbing his service weapon and shooting police recruit Raymond Gray in the head during a training exercise.
Kern will serve 60 days in jail. Gray’s aunt says that’s too little punishment.
“No, [justice] hasn’t been served. I’m pissed off; that’s how I feel,” she said. “The family is very, very hurt. We’re disappointed and that’s all I can say.”
Kern thought he was using his simulator weapon during the exercise at Rosewood Center. Live guns are not allowed during training. The shooting prompted reforms.
“We’ve had a major procedural breakdown in our systems,” said Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. “These weapons that we carry on our hips, they are not toys.”
The scene was chaotic and Kern can be heard calling 911.
“Somebody was accidentally shot in the head during a training exercise. I need a medic here now,” he said.
Rosewood is an old, closed-down state facility and Officer Kern said during trial he needed his weapon for security. Prosecutors said he was obsessed with it.
“Some indications that he seemed to have what I’ve described previously as an unhealthy attachment to that gun. He seemed to want to have it with him at all times,” said Baltimore County Assistant State’s Attorney John Cox. “I don’t think he’s an evil person. Unquestionably he’s sorry but he still needs to be punished for what he did.”
Gray lost vision in one eye. Right now, he’s still recovering, and life will never be the same.
“He’s not doing well at all. He just had a seizure last week, another one,” his aunt said.
Kern faced a maximum of five years in jail.
In a statement, the Baltimore Police Department said, “Today’s sentencing brings to a close this painful chapter in our history. While the Gray family continues to heal, we remain committed to ensuring that the training environment is as safe as it can be for our officers and trainees. Our process will be continuous as we work to incorporate best practices into all of our training and day-to-day procedures and raise the standards of the Baltimore Police Department. Throughout this reform process we remain cognizant of the lives forever impacted by this event.
The Professional Standards and Accountability Bureau will move forward with the administrative investigation into this matter as we continue to hold all of our officers accountable for their actions.”
Kern is a 19-year veteran of the agency and is currently suspended with pay.
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