The Baltimore police training supervisor who shot a recruit during an unauthorized training exercise last month will face criminal charges after being indicted Wednesday by a Baltimore County grand jury.
William Scott Kern, 46, faces counts of second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, both misdemeanors. The indictment comes six weeks after the shooting during an exercise at the shuttered Rosewood Center in Owings Mills.
Kern, a Carroll County resident who had worked at the city training academy for more than a decade, turned himself in at the state police Golden Ring barracks. He was released on his own recognizance.
Kern's attorney, Shaun Owens, said the shooting was a "tragedy," and his client never meant to hurt anyone. The victim, Raymond Gray, is a University of Maryland police recruit who was training with city officers.
"This does not require pointing the finger at someone," Owens said. "It does not require blame. We will look forward to our day in court."
Wednesday's indictment offered no details of the investigation, which was conducted by the state police. Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger declined to comment.
Sources have said that Gray had peered through a window and Kern, an 18-year veteran, fired at him with what he thought was a gun that expelled paintball-like pellets. Instead, he had grabbed his service weapon. Gray may not have been participating in a drill at the time, the sources said, and was critically wounded after taking a bullet to the front of the head.
Gray's attorney, A. Dwight Pettit, said the recruit and his family were pleased that charges had been filed. Discharged from University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center last month, Gray remained hospitalized and unable to communicate.
But Pettit said he has made tremendous progress since then: Gray can not only talk but is walking, and Pettit expects he will be able to eat without the aid of a feeding tube soon. He is also expected to undergo eye surgery.
Pettit said Gray cannot remember anything about the shooting. "The positive thing [about the indictment] is this will allow us to get some information now about as to what actually took place to cause this tragic event," Pettit said.
Kern is charged with second-degree assault, which carries a prison term of up to 10 years. The maximum sentence for reckless endangerment is five years.
Owens, Kern's attorney, said prosecutors would have to prove intent to prosecute the assault charge. He said there was no intent because the shooting was an accident.
Kern's "main concern is for the health and well-being of Raymond Gray," Owens added.
Officers' service weapons and live ammunition are prohibited in a training environment, according to city police, and it remains unclear how and why the officer had the real gun. Police use "simunition" weapons in training exercises, which have a similar feel to a service weapon but fire ammunition that is similar to a paintball.
Firing a shot in someone's direction outside of an exercise, even from a "simunition" weapon, is prohibited by the policies governing training.
In the fallout from the shooting, state officials disclosed that Baltimore police were not authorized to use the Rosewood Center for training. City police said that top commanders weren't aware of the exercise.
A part-time member of Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts' security detail was among the officers present at the Rosewood site at the time of the shooting.
The department replaced the training academy commander, only to have his successor decide to retire days later. Judy Pal, Batts' chief of staff, said Wednesday that the former commander, Maj. Eric Russell, and other officers remain suspended but have not been charged internally.
Some firearms training has resumed, and police said they are continuing to review the shooting and the training academy's standards.
In a statement, Batts said the indictment "moves us one step forward in this painful but necessary process" as the department reckons with the incident.
"When we fall short, we will not only hold ourselves accountable; but will take the necessary time, care and caution required to restore the public's confidence in our department," Batts said.Copyright © 2015, CT Now