Charges Planned In Officer-Involved Shooting

Friday, September 7th 2007, 2:45 pm
By: News On 6

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.

Related Stories:

8/4/2007 Noble Boy Killed By Stray Bullet

8/5/2007 5-Year-Old's Death Under Investigation

8/6/2007 Three Police Officers On Leave After Child Shot