By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
10:25 PM EST, February 27, 2013
A police recruit wounded in a training exercise can respond through hand signals but remains hospitalized with an unclear path to recovery, said a Baltimore attorney representing the officer.
State police identified the injured officer candidate on Wednesday as Raymond Gray, 43, of Baltimore. Gray, who was training to be a University of Maryland campus police officer, was accidentally shot in the head with a live round Feb. 12 during what authorities have described as an unauthorized training exercise using simulated ammunition.
Last week, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Shock Trauma Center said Gray had been discharged from the hospital but could not provide an update on his recovery. A. Dwight Pettit, an attorney retained by Gray’s family, said the officer has been transferred to another hospital for rehabilitation.
“He’s been in and out of consciousness,” Pettit said. “He understands what you’re saying, and can respond through certain hand signals.”
University officials have said Gray joined the campus force in July, and he is listed in a state employee database as an officer. University of Maryland Police Chief of Police Antonio Williams declined to talk about Gray on Wednesday, saying, “The family has requested that we not give any information out.”
Gray’s prognosis in terms of speech and other motor skills is uncertain, Pettit said, but his recovery overall is “amazing considering the point of impact of the bullet.”
“By the grace of God, it appears to be remarkable that he’s recuperating,” Pettit said.
Pettit said he is working to notify city government and others of his intent to file litigation, which is a standard step required under state law. He said there did not appear to be any safety procedures being followed the day of the training exercise.
“This type of negligence is just outrageous — with people trying to learn the job and train to be competent in their chosen profession, to not have every supervisory safeguard in operation to protect their lives,” he said.
City police Instructor William Scott Kern remains suspended from the Police Department as state police conduct a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting at the abandoned Rosewood Center in Owings Mills. Officials have said that commanders were not aware of the exercise and that the city was not authorized to use the facility. The shooting also occurred outside a training exercise, with the shot fired from Kern’s service weapon at recruits on the other side of a window.
Appearing on WYPR on Wednesday, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts declined to discuss findings of his agency's continuing internal probe into the shooting, saying that “most likely, we're going to have a lawsuit we'll be dealing with” and that he had to “stay unbiased” because some officers may be fired in connection with their role.
“Suffice it to say … we didn’t follow all the policies and procedures that we probably should have,” Batts said.
After the shooting, Batts suspended the chain of command in the training academy and replaced its director, Maj. Eric Russell. Just days later, the replacement, Maj. Joseph Smith, told Batts he was accepting an outside job and would be leaving the agency.
“I think we messed up by tooting his horn too much,” Batts joked. “[Smith] had applied for a job in September. Then when he hit the newspaper [that he had been named training academy director], they reached out to him. It was a job he could not afford to refuse.”
Batts called Smith’s replacement, Lt. Col. Ross Buzzuro, “one of my best.”
“He’s a problem solver,” Batts said. “I want him to go through and rip apart every part of that academy.”
With Buzzuro in the fold, Batts said, he can “get rest, I can get sleep with him in that position.”
Batts said the Baltimore Police Department will continue to train recruits from smaller agencies that cannot afford their own police academy.
“What’s paramount is to let those agencies know we’ll take care of their recruits like we take care of our recruits, no matter the uniform,” he said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.
Copyright © 2013, The Baltimore Sun