Charges Filed in the Austin Haley Shooting
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Second-degree manslaughter charges will be filed against two Noble police officers involved in the accidental fatal shooting of a 5-year-old boy, a district attorney said Friday.
Austin Gabriel Haley was killed Aug. 3 after one of the officers fired his .40-caliber handgun at a snake in a birdhouse outside a home in Noble. The boy was standing at a dock at a pond near the house when he was hit.
District Attorney Greg Mashburn identified the officers as Brad Rogers and Shawn Richardson. They would face up to four years in prison if convicted of the felony charge. Mashburn said he researched the law extensively, visited the shooting scene twice and met with family members of the boy before making his decision. "I take no pleasure in this decision," he said. "Although this shooting is accidental, with reasonable care and caution, the death of a child could have been avoided."
The boy's parents, who were at the news conference where Mashburn made his announcement, said they supported the prosecutor's decision. The officer who fired the shot believed the snake to be a rattlesnake, but it turned out to be a harmless black rat snake that is often mistaken for a dangerous snake, Noble City Manager Bob Wade said. The city of Noble had no animal control officer at the time of the shooting.
District Attorney Greg Mashburn has declared the child's death was caused by "culpable negligence". "I conclude that these officers failed to do something that a reasonably careful person would do, by firing a weapon at a non-poisonous snake that was stuck in a birdhouse without knowing what lay behind their location," he said.
Paul Bradley Rogers, a
Let me rephrase that.......Paul Bradley Rogers took the life from Austin Haley. Paul Bradley Rogers took a beloved son from his mother, Renee Haley, and a beloved son from his father, Jack Haley. Paul Bradley Rogers is a killer. Regardless of the reasons why, this police officer is a child killer.
Robert Shawn Richardson was Rogers' supervising officer with the Noble Police Department. He was at the scene when the decision was made to place lives at risk to kill a misidentified but stuck harmless black rat snake with a handgun. Rogers had been on the police force about a month, and Richardson had been on the force for more than five years
Reality Check Time..............It does not matter whether the snake was dangerous or not. It does not matter whether the snake was stuck in a birdhouse or not. It does not matter whether the snake was poisonous or not. It does not matter if the snake resembled a black mamba and was spitting blood from it's eyes like a horney toad. Discussion of the species of snakes, statistics of misidentification between serpent species, and degrees of peril encountered by these police officers is simply smoke and mirrors thrown up by a police department and a city government that does not want to accept the truth.
It does not matter whether the officer was a rookie or a 20 year veteran with trophies from Camp Perry and a gold trimmed letter from Ronald Reagan testifying to his history of safe firearm usage. The fact that the shots were fired by a rookie cop under the direct supervision of his more experienced partner is simply more distraction from the central issue. These facts are true, but they are irrelevant.
What is relevant is the town of Noble Oklahoma issued a yahoo a firearm, and instructed him to go preserve the peace. That is irresponsible and negligent. They would not instruct him to drive a police cruiser without first ascertaining he knew how to drive. They would not instruct him to enforce the law without first knowing what the law was. Yet they instructed him to strap on a deadly weapon and allowed him to parade about town as their agent of law and order, without a whit of information in his head on basic firearms safety. None. The city of Noble, Oklahoma allowed that. If they gave him instruction on the safe use of his firearm, he did not retain the instruction, he did not comprehend the instruction, or he just did not give a damn in his quest to be the big bad snake killin' hero of Cleveland County. Simple instruction. Basic safety instruction. Instruction not deemed necessary by the city government of Noble, Oklahoma or the police department of Noble, Oklahoma.
The Four Rules
1. All firearms are always loaded
2. Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at anything you are not willing to destroy
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
4. Be sure of your target and what is behind it
4. Be sure of your target and what is behind it.
What could be more simple? A precious life is over, an innocent child is dead because a town did not care enough to train an officer of the law in the most basic rules of firearms safety. A innocent life is over, an precious child is lost forever because an officer of the law did not care enough to avail himself to the most basic of firearms safety, comprehend and integrate it into his vocation, and follow it before his hand approached his firearm.
A financial judgement against the city of Noble will not bring young Austin back. A prison sentence for the officers involved will not give these parents back their child. A financial judgement will help wake this city government up, make them face reality, and will help insure they invest in basic firearms safety training for their police officers. Prison sentences will insure that the remaining police officers stay awake in the class.