Police officers in Maryland and across the country train extensively to ensure that they are able to use their firearms properly. When used in the correct situation, officers can protect themselves and the public. When used improperly, however, the shooting can result in violent crimes charges for the officer.
A Baltimore police supervisor is facing a pair of misdemeanor charges after he apparently shot a police trainee during a training exercise. The trial for the criminal charges begins this week.
The incident occurred in an abandoned building where Baltimore police trainees were practicing “active shooting” training. Trainees were using “simunition” guns – weapons that looked almost identical to real guns but fired only nonlethal training ammunition. The police supervisor, an 18-year veteran of the force, apparently mistook his service weapon for the simunition gun and fired it at a trainee. The trainee was shot in the head and nearly killed. He spent several months in the hospital, and lost the vision in one eye.
The case resulted in serious charges for the officer – he is now facing a criminal trial for second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. The trainee’s family also brought civil charges against the police department, stating that authorities should not have practiced in that particular environment and that police officials should have been aware that some instructors were bringing live weapons onto the training field, even though this may have been against regulations.
Filing both a civil lawsuit and criminal charges is common in cases such as this one. While criminal charges are intended to punish illegal actions, civil suits are intended to compensate the victims of illegal or irresponsible behavior. Often, those accused of a crime need to defend themselves against both before their name can be cleared completely.
The Baltimore Sun, “Officer in training shooting says he was expected to carry gun” Jessica Anderson, Oct. 07, 2013