A rifle left unattended on a public sidewalk by a Kentucky police officer — depicted in video footage shot by neighbor Matt Haas, who objected to the haphazard placement of the weapon — is being described as a “rookie mistake.”
Officers from Dayton and Bellevue Police Departments responded to a domestic call Wednesday afternoon in Bellevue, according to the River City News. They responded to a report of an intoxicated man who struck his father in his father’s house “multiple times” before firing a gun in the air. To make matters worse, the father told police there were a number of guns in the house.
Understanding that there had already been gunfire, Bellevue Police officer Marc Chapman drew a rifle and responded, asking the suspect to come out from his father’s house to defuse the situation.
The suspect pleaded with Chapman to put the rifle down before coming out. Chapman reportedly handed his weapon to Dayton Police officer Brett Lockman.
As the suspect spoke to Chapman, Lockman was summoned to the house as well. Lockman left Chapman’s rifle on the sidewalk opposite the house they had responded to and proceeded to the home.
The rifle was left unattended for “several minutes,” reports the River City News. Neighbor Matt Haas noticed the weapon and picked up his camera, posting photos and videos to Facebook that drew strong responses.
“An officer put his gun on the ground and walked away from it… It wasn’t til I notified another officer that the gun was there that he retrieved it,” said Haas of the rifle.
At this time, Haas has not filed any action against any of the responding officers.
In a statement, Dayton Police Chief David Halfhill said the abandoned rifle was an “accident” and said the incident would be investigated internally.
“Unfortunately during the course of the incident another agency’s patrol rifle was accidentally set down when the officers were going hands-on with the suspect. Thank you to the neighbors for making this observance and bringing it to the officer’s attention,” wrote Halfhill. “It is unfortunate that this incident happened, but we as police officers are human and do make mistakes.”
Bellevue Police Chief Lee Estepp has invited Haas to view bodycam footage of the incident to get a clearer understanding of the decision, though he calls it a “rookie mistake.”
“Officer Lockman is a young officer, he’s new to Dayton and I think it was just a mistake. … In a perfect world, you would walk back to your cruiser and put it in your car,” Estepp admitted. “He’s not going to leave the suspect on the porch and walk back to his car.”
The suspect was taken into custody without incident.