WICHITA, Kansas – It was a case that shocked a community, a young child gets their hands on a gun and shoots another child, killing him. Now, officials say no charges will be filed in the case from April.
“Ultimately after the case was reviewed it was determined to have been simply an accident,” said Sedgwick County District Attorney, Marc Bennett, “and no criminal culpability involved.”
April 29, police were called out to the unsettling scene. A 4 year old boy reached into a nightstand where a fully loaded semiautomatic handgun was stored. While he wasn’t able to pick the gun up, he was able to pull the trigger, hitting a 19 month old in the chest.
We wanted to know just what makes one incident an accident and another a criminal case.
Just weeks ago, a woman was taken to jail after allegedly pushing a lawnmower over a child at her daycare — an accident, but one that lead to an arrest on suspicion of aggravated child endangerment.
Bennett says in each case, charges are based on the definitive actions of the parents or person in charge and the shooting was no different. His office works to answer a wide range of questions before making a decision on charges.
“Each case is assessed on its own merit on a case by case basis. Where was the weapon, the meth, the thing?” said Bennett. “Where was it left in relation to the children? Was it put in a secure location, somewhere removed from the kids? Was this someplace out in the open?”
Kansas does not have a negligible homicide statute in place and Bennett wouldn’t speculate on the whether a law on the books would have changed the outcome of the case.
“Every human tragedy doesn’t necessarily need to be addressed by the criminal justice system. Sometimes there are just tragic accidents.”