Silver Spring, MD – Veteran Montgomery County police officer Todd Archer will not be criminally charged in spite of the fact that he shot an unarmed person during a traffic stop. Body camera footage from the incident showed the officer attempt to smash the window of the car with his firearm but ended up accidentally firing off the gun instead. The driver of the car was shot and wounded. Luckily they were able to survive the attack.
“Questions remain as to why a firearm was used to try to break the glass, and why the firearm discharged,” the Montgomery department said in a statement.
“Questions remain” indeed. The name of the victim has not been released to the public but representatives from the police department are reportedly meeting with the victim’s family and attorney to show them the body camera footage to prove that the officer did not fire off the gun intentionally.
“I don’t believe the officer intended to shoot this man, a number of questions remain about what happened,” Montgomery Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said.
“Our Internal Affairs Division is conducting the administrative investigation to determine if the officer complied with departmental directives, rules, policy and training. Our Major Crimes Division is investigating the shooting itself to help determine if the actions were within the law. When they are completed with their investigation, they will submit their findings to the Howard County state’s attorney,” Montgomery County Police Capt. Paul Starks.
The victim of the shooting was reportedly ramming another vehicle with his car when police arrived. Police have not explained why Archer felt that he needed to smash the window to get inside the vehicle, although it is assumed that he did not get the response he was looking for from the driver. According to The Washington Post, the driver may have been ramming the other vehicle because they thought they were being blocked in the parking lot when in reality a curb was preventing the car from going anywhere.
Even if the driver was unresponsive, smashing a window with a gun is extremely reckless and highly unprofessional, especially in a crowded place like a parking lot. However, the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office doesn’t seem to think so. After examining the case, the office concluded that “Officer Archer’s actions do not rise to the level of recklessness needed to pursue any criminal charges.”
In an interview with The Post, activist Chuck Drago pointed out that the officer was obviously careless, are the very least.
“A gun isn’t a tool for hitting or banging or ramming. It’s designed for one thing, to shoot a bullet,” he said.
Drago also said that the design of a gun also makes it dangerous to use as a hammer, “You tend to clench your fist, which includes your trigger finger,” he said.
Drago went on to say that these facts should be just as well known to cops as they are to the average person, “It may not be on the syllabus: ‘Tell cop not to break window with gun.’ ” Drago joked.
In the rare case that a person was putting lives at risk with a vehicle, an officer, or anyone else for that matter, would be justified in using any means possible to stop that from happening. In this case, however, it seems that the officer was putting more lives in danger with his actions. The police must not have felt that the victim of the shooting was doing anything too dangerous because no charges were filed against them either.
Shooter Todd Archer is currently on a paid vacation and still employed with the Montgomery County police department.