Police examine officer’s gunfire incident

Columbia police say an officer fired his weapon by accident during an investigation.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:39 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

A Columbia police officer is the subject of an internal investigation after he accidentally fired his service weapon in a north Columbia duplex April 16.

Police would not release the name of the officer being investigated. Capt. Sam Hargadine described him as being fairly new and said he was hired within the last year. The officer’s immediate supervisor, Sgt. Will Green, is overseeing the investigation, Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm said.

Two officers went to 1415 Greensboro Drive to investigate an accidental shooting that had occurred earlier that day at the home. Brandon Robbins, 19, accidentally shot himself in the leg while examining a gun that belonged to Dale Horton, who lived in the duplex until Saturday.

“The officers were investigating because they need to confirm that the shooting was indeed accidental,” Boehm said Sunday.

Hargadine said that this measure was taken because “people lie to the police all the time.”

During a search of the house, described by police as a “protective sweep,” one of the officers accidentally fired his service weapon, a 12-gauge shotgun, into the floor of a closet, Boehm said.

Although Boehm said the officer was not following procedure, he said the officer was “clearly doing something right” because the shot hit the floor and not a person.

Hargadine emphasized that only one shot was fired into the floor.

He also explained that every time a weapon is fired, the officer must file a report. The officer being investigated is forthcoming, he said.

Boehm said the internal investigation procedure includes a review of the report and interviews of all the people present during the incident to determine whether the officer acted improperly. Hargadine said he was under the impression that Horton was not present during the search, and that “if the officer would not have reported this, no one would have known that it had happened.” The officer’s supervisor reassured Horton that the city’s Risk Management Division would compensate him for damage caused by the accidental gunfire.

The chief said it is too early to say what sort of disciplinary action the officer might face.

If the officer is found to have acted improperly, the range of disciplinary action ranges from a memo and verbal warning to suspension and dismissal, Hargadine said.

Boehm said police are not pursuing criminal charges against Horton. Meanwhile, Robbins was released from the hospital on Monday.

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