Father Charged in Death of 1-Year-Old Son After Accidental Shooting
A Tallahassee father is facing charges over the death of his one-year-old son who was killed when he and his brother were playing with the gun in the back room of the apartment. Their father has since been charged with culpable negligence and improper storage of a firearm.
The father told police that he heard a “pop” while he was watching television in another room. He ran into the room and discovered that his toddler had been shot in the abdomen by his other son. Police recovered a Glock 19 handgun from the apartment and another pistol that was found under the bed.
The father appears not to have been charged with manslaughter in this case. Instead, he is being charged with culpable negligence and improper storage of a firearm. In this article, we will review the case and prosecution of these offenses.
In Florida, the crime of culpable negligence (§ 784.05(3)) is defined as any behavior that shows a reckless disregard for human life, or for the safety of other individuals that shows wantonness and recklessness.
To prove culpable negligence, the state must establish that:
- The accused exposed the victim to personal injury or death
- The accused did so with a reckless disregard for the safety of others
In this case, the father is accused of leaving his sons alone in a room with a loaded weapon and failing to secure the weapon with children in his house. When an incident of culpable negligence involves a child gaining access to a weapon, it is charged as a third-degree felony. The state must likewise prove that the accused stored or left the weapon within reach or easy access of the minor. This crime is prosecuted as a felony in the third degree which is punishable by up to 5 years in state prison.
Improper storage of a firearm
Gun owners with minors in their homes must properly store the weapon in a place that the minors can’t reach to prevent incidents like the aforementioned from occurring. § 790.174 defines the crime of improper storage of a weapon. The law states that any individual with minors in their home must secure the weapon from the minors by keeping the weapon in a locked box or container or in a location that a reasonable person would believe it to be secure from the minors. The crime is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in the second degree.
In this case, the state is charging the defendant with both crimes. The defendant could face up to 5 years in prison on the culpable negligence charge alone. Surveillance video taken from inside the home shows that the two boys were in a separate room when the shooting occurred. The defendant said that he had the gun because there were masked individuals moving through his apartment complex and he was afraid.
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