Smithfield officer decided not to report gunshot

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, July 12, 2017

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

It was a Smithfield police officer who decided not to report the gunshot at the July 1 Smithfield Farmers Market, according to Sgt. Chris Meier.

The officer, who was off-duty at the time, told superiors that he assumed that a market patron had called it in and that a unit was on the way, Meier said.

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The officer, who confessed his involvement after an email inquiry to officers by the department, following one by The Smithfield Times, told superiors his role was to make sure no one was injured, Meier said. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The Smithfield Police did not become aware of the gunshot until Monday.

The officer, who the department refused to identify, is not on administrative leave, and the incident is being handled as a personnel issue, Meier said.

The officer should have called his supervisor. He should have reported the incident, Meier said.

Meier said the officer did not realize that market patrons would think the issue was resolved by his being there when the gunshot occurred.

The man whose gun went off is only known as a retired police officer from Indiana, Meier said. His name was not taken and Richard Flick, the leather goods vendor who sells under the name of Split Rails, said he cannot identify the man.

The allegedly retired Indiana officer had a pin, about the size of a quarter, on his wallet indicating his retired status, Meier said.

The man had stopped by Flick’s booth to inquire about having a holster sized for his pistol. Before handing over the gun to Flick, he shoved an ammunition magazine into the gun and a shot was fired.

Meier said he cannot determine if the retired officer’s actions were criminal, but at the least they sound reckless.

Reckless handling of a firearm is a Class 1 misdemeanor.  {/mprestriction}