Madison County District Attorney's Office explains why charges are rare in most accidental shootings

The sheriff's office said no charges are expected after a 5-year-old accidentally shot himself on Sunday.

Posted: Feb 3, 2020 8:14 PM
Updated: Feb 3, 2020 10:57 PM

Investigators don’t plan on filing charges after the accidental shooting death of a 5-year-old.

The Madison County Sheriff's Office said the child was alone in a truck on Berrycreek Drive about a mile from Capshaw Road in Harvest when the shooting happened on Sunday.

The Madison County District Attorney's Office said many times charges are not filed in accidental shooting cases, and explained investigators look very closely at the facts to determine if someone ignored a risk and was aware of what was going on when the death happened.

"A parent that accidentally leaves the gun out and the kid knocks it off the table and gets it, is different than a parent that puts a gun in the crib. Neither one of those parents want their kid to die but one of them is being reckless and one of them has made an accident," said Tim Douthit, Madison County Assistant District Attorney.

Douthit said many accidental shooting cases are not prosecuted. It’s up to investigators and the district attorney's office to decide if there was recklessness when a death occurred.

"You have to be aware of what you're doing is wrong, and you have to do it anyway knowing the risk," he said.

WAAY 31 asked if having a safety on a loaded gun makes a difference.

"Gun laws are what they are. There is not law that says you have to have it on a trigger lock, in a locked safe every moment that you're home. Most gun owners are responsible gun owners," he said.

Douthit said honest mistakes do happen, and prosecuting a parent in a tragedy sometimes doesn't do any good for the situation.

"I can't imagine. I have 4 kids, but for the grace of God they were a number of times that my kids might should have not made it because kids are rambunctious they do things, and no parent is going to be perfect," he said.

WAAY 31 reached out to the Madison County Coroner to find out how many accidental gun deaths happened in 2019 in Madison County and so far in 2020.

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