FBI Agent Criminally Charged After Accidentally Shooting Bar Patron In Dancing Accident

 

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We previously discussed the accident involving an off-duty FBI agent whose service weapon fell out while doing a back flip on a dance floor in Denver. Chase Bishop has now charged with assault.  The charge is problematic in my view.  I have been a long critic of the criminalization of negligence and civil violations for years.  This seems like a clear case of negligence that could be properly handled in a torts action and internal disciplinary actions at the FBI.

The second-degree assault charge is allowed under a provision covering any injury through the reckless handing of a gun:

Universal Citation: CO Rev Stat § 18-3-203 (2016)

(1) A person commits the crime of assault in the second degree if:

. . .

(d) He recklessly causes serious bodily injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon . . .

In this case,  Bishop is being cited for not better securing his weapon.  There is no word on the blood alcohol tests performed after the shooting of the bar patron in the leg.

Unless there was intoxication or other aggravating circumstances, I do not view this as necessarily a criminal as opposed to a civil matter.

What do you think?

89 thoughts on “FBI Agent Criminally Charged After Accidentally Shooting Bar Patron In Dancing Accident”

  1. The main reason why criminalization of torts makes sense is that, without criminal consequences, the very wealthy can inflict tort injuries repeatedly for personal gratification, intimidation, or amusement (“sport”). The criminal law is the great “leveler” in a society bringing into contact people of desperate poverty and fabulous wealth.

    The topic of sexual predation is undergoing such a rethinking. In his younger days, Bill Cosby could bear the consequences of his sexual misconducts through paying out settlements. In serial fashion, he drugged and assaulted over 50 women. Seeing the ineffectiveness of torts alone to deter Cosby, the legal system in PA successfully prosecuted him on the 2nd attempt. In plain view of all similar wealthy sexual predators, the power imbalance between Cosby and his female victims is now leveled, or will be when Cos reports to prison in July. Criminalization is needed as a backstop where the tort system fails to correct intentional, repetitive, abusive behavior. I rest my case, counselor.

    1. In serial fashion, he drugged and assaulted over 50 women.

      My money’s on the proposition that > 80% of these women are butt-hurt that transactional sex didn’t help them with their career and are full-of-it.

      1. Put your wallet back in your pocket. Cosby has a strange addiction to having sex with unconscious women. One step up from necrophilia, I guess.
        Anyway, I doubt that women who are secretly drugged into unconsciousness are focusing on their career.

        1. True. If the sex was simply a “payment in kind” for career assistance, why did he need to drug them? Either he had to drug them because he knew they wouldn’t agree to have sex with him, which is my belief, or he has some creepy fixation on having sex with unconscious women.

          1. Let me offer a hypothesis. This is like a riot. The propensity of any one individual to toss a rock through the window is a function of the level of disorder around them and consequent to a ‘pioneer’ rock-thrower so doing. They offer ‘accounts’ which are cribbed from others which have appeared in the paper. It’s difficult to refute the accounts due to the passage of time. I’ll offer you a suggestion: he drugged 5 women. The others just want revenge.

            1. It’s so interesting to have a member of the Cosby jury here on our very own blog.

              to the nutty sufferer

          2. TIN – what is interesting is they each agree to take the drugs to “relax”. 😉

  2. The severe criminal charges for all things gun related is a result of our bargain between our gun happy society and those that want to limit guns. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. So we criminalized any bad thing that happens with a gun, the NRA is happy, I mean after all, NRA members never do anything stupid with their guns. And those that want fewer guns are happy. Certainly not all, but that appears to be the bargain we struck. Use a gun to commit a crime, or do a stupid thing with a gun, and we will send you to jail for a much longer time than if you had not used a gun. So the hope was people would think twice before using a gun or even purchasing a gun. Hasn’t worked out so well in practice.

    1. So we criminalized any bad thing that happens with a gun, t

      You can examine the Penal Law of New York to see what you can be prosecuted for in re the use or possession of firearms. It isn’t ‘anything’. New York has 10 classifications for criminal offenses, from ‘violation’ (e.g. disorderly conduct) to ‘A-1 felony’ (premeditated murder). Use a firearm in the course of an assault, trespass, burglary, or robbery and you are bumped one or two notches in the classification. For any low-grade felony (Class D or Class E), the judge has the discretion to give you a slap on the wrist (i.e. a determinate sentence of any duration he might select short of a year).

  3. If one brings a loaded handgun into a crowded public space,

    then engages in horseplay which causes the gun to discharge,

    they should be held criminally liable if someone is injured by said discharge.

    According to accounts I have read, no serious injuries resulted from this incident. But that doesn’t make the subject any less irresponsible. Had the victim been seriously hurt, this matter would be viewed in much darker terms.

  4. Disagree. It’s a reasonable inference that Christopher Wray was a baaaaad selection for FBI director. He’s a lawyer, not a cop. His background is similar to his two immediate predecessors. And it appears that his priority is to protect the image of the institution by preventing bad behavior from being public knowledge, rather than to identify and expel bad apples. We live in an age of hollow men.

    That aside, he’s being prosecuted by local, not federal, authorities.

  5. The “safety” mechanism of the Glock seems to me to be at issue. How useful is a “safety” that disengages the same way a gun is discharged accidentally? Admittedly, I do not know the details, but from the Glock website it seems that if you can accidentally discharge the weapon by the trigger, you can accidentally disengage the Glock “safety” the same way and with the same result. Is this really a “safety” at all?

    1. Agree with you Debbie. I am in agreement with Prof. Turley. Let the FBI handle this in-house. I’m wondering why though a bullet is chambered in the first place.

        1. And how often is a defensive situation warranted, cowboy? Guns are not a solution, grow up.

  6. I tend to agree with JT, although this behavior is close enough to criminal negligence to catch a criminal charge.
    Most likely, Chase Bishop has had the unfortunate timing of having this stupid/lethal even happen just as the FBI has public scrutiny on it and has pledged to clean up its act.

  7. People can go to jail for drunk driving without any bodily injury to others or a nickel’s worth of property damage.

  8. Lots of people go to prison for reckless driving that causes personal injury, especially if alcohol is involved. So why a free pass when a gun is involved? Or is it a free pass because the perp is a cop?

    If the perp had been Joe Sixpack, the mainstream media would have wet themselves for new gun control.

    BTW, not all handguns are safe with a chambered round. They’re like cars with gear shifters jumping out of park and running over your toddler in the driveway.

  9. JT says “Unless there was intoxication or other aggravating circumstances”

    Just for giggles, drunken cop in Chicago beats a 125lb female bartender for refusing to serve him more booze. Caught on video. How much booze did Chase have to drink?

    Police officer Anthony Abbate Jr says “Nobody tells me what to do”. Then Anthony calls numerous fellow Chicago cops & detectives to help cover-up this brutal attack.

  10. Guy looks like Peter Sztrok’s bruthaa-from-anotha-motha. Is that facial type a recruiting standard at the FBI?

  11. The cited statute criminalizes recklessness, not negligence, although in some jurisdictions the words are synonymous. I agree that it is dangerous and, possibly unconstitutional, to criminalize negligent conduct.

    1. ‘Criminally negligent homicide’ is a crime in New York and, I’d wager, just about anywhere. The distinction in New York between ‘reckless’ and ‘criminally negligent’ conduct is, in the code, between disregarding a risk and failing to perceive a risk a reasonable person would have seen.

      1. I have no problem with criminalizing disregarding a known risk. What I have a problem with is criminalizing a risk of which the defendant is unaware but a reasonable person would be aware. In the former case there is a guilty mind sufficient to affix criminal liability. In the latter case a defendant can be convicted even if he intended no criminal act. Criminalizing negligence cuts against the very concept of individual responsibility which is essential in the criminal context.

        1. Well, take it up with the New York State Legislature. And the Colorado legislature. People are often penalized for things they should have known and did not know and I don’t think the matter at hand is such that you’re asking him to know something esoteric.

          1. Someday, somebody will take it up, if not with the legislature, with the courts. SCOTUS has opined that premising a conviction on a reasonable person, i.e., negligence standard is “inconsistent with the conventional criminal conduct requirement of ‘awareness of some wrongdoing'”.

  12. So Hillary, Clapper, Comey, Brennan, Lynch, Yates, Obama and all of the Chumba Gang get off Scott free and this poor soul doing a back flip is charged. Once again, the DOJ and FBI get it wrong. I’ll vote Republican until the cows come home and here’s a perfect example of why.

          1. Don de Drain – cows make themselves at home wherever they are. 😉

    1. It is your obsession with foolishness that keeps you voting rethuglican and lack of personal integrity.

    2. Preach it sista! And keep buyin’ those commemorative “silver” coins they advertise on Pravda Faux News. Pro tip: you’re not the first gullible rube to check in here with today’s Pravda talking points.

      this is to “that hannity feller sure is a looker, I’ll tell you” elise

  13. I believe the high profile nature of the video was significant in the prosecutor’s decision to file paperwork.

    I personally do not believe this case will be successfully prosecuted as charged. I doubt a jury will accept the state’s reasoning or resolve.

    Here is an informative discussion on the Recklessness culpability standard as codified in Colorado. From attorney H. Michael Steinberg.

    https://www.criminal-lawyer-colorado.com/cases-we-defend/understanding-the-complex-colorado-crime-of-reckless-endangerment-crs-18-3-208.html

    Some here opined that the pistol discharged when the agent attempted to retrieve it and not caused by the fact it struck the floor. Without having proper video equipment or the original I believe this is the more likely cause. That said, the recklessness alleged in holding the pistol in such a manner that it fell out of the holster/waistband and leading to it falling out is in my view dispelled the moment it landed on the ground and did not discharge. It then becomes a case of whether a person simply picking up a handgun from on the ground and having an accidental discharge is a reckless act. Picking up a gun from on the ground is not a reckless act by any means for an adult trained in firearm use.

    Again, I don’t believe the state will successfully prosecute this.

    1. Drunken flatfoot shot a bar patron. Book ’em, Danno.

  14. I say jury trial and pray for a bunch of women on the jury. They see those moves, they will not care who he shot. 😉

  15. I think Wally is right. No need to make this such a severe crime. Many other disciplinary actions could have been taken first. FBI making an example out of him. BTW I have no great love for the FBI, but this does seem excessive.

    1. Again, ‘the FBI’ is not prosecuting him. There’s a district attorney in Denver. Her name is Beth McCann. He was charged at the Sheriff’s office in Denver County, not at the federal building.

  16. A question for law enforcement – is it practice to carry unsecured weapons with chambered rounds? Seems that is an accident waiting to happen, witness the case.

    1. I’m guessing you watch a lot of cop shows but never carried a handgun. The gun did not fire because it was dropped, it went off because of how he handled it when retrieving it. Carrying a semauto handgun with an empty chamber makes it pretty useless as a round needs to be chambered before it can be fired.
      The main violation seems to be that he was carrying, consuming alcohol and involving himself in antics.
      The way he grabbed up the gun, slipping his hand into the trigger guard, and his almost nonchalant reaction to the discharge, makes me think he was likely intoxicated.
      I’m thinkng he was charged, just about properly. The charges were state charges by the way and out of the realm of FBI jurisdiction.

      1. My husband and I watched the video several times to determine when the gun discharged. You are correct. The gun only discharged when he picked it up. Not when it hit the ground. But I am having real problems with so many different “standards” of law enforcement in America right now. The politicians are away with some very egregious acts of bad behavior and this poor soul, albeit it was poor judgment, is being charged. Where are the charges for Hillary’s and the Chumba Gangs bad behavior. Oh right, Comey through LoWretta and Obama made certain that nothings was EVER going to happen to her. May a “POX” be on these very bad actors, their homes and all who they love (besides themselves).

        1. So, no one commented on your off-topic regurgitation, so you thought you’d post the same prattle again? Reddit is down the hall. Thanks for playing and drive home safely.

          this is to “everyone I know like that doocey feller too” elise

      2. The main violation seems to be that he was carrying, consuming alcohol and involving himself in antics.

        Well, yeah, there’s that.

    2. ” it practice to carry unsecured weapons with chambered rounds?”
      ~+~
      Unsecured, meaning not properly holstered in general is not proper though it is such a granular situation I doubt most departments have regulations on off duty/undercover holsters, it’s generally a good practice to have a securable holster.

      As for chambered rounds. Nobody in law enforcement I have ever seen or have known ever carried an unchambered handgun on their person. Rifles and shotguns are usually unchambered when they are carried in vehicles or gun lockers.

  17. Is not the civil action infinitely easier after this drunk brain dead thinks-he’s-hot-_hit police man is a convicted criminal? The dude wrongly discharges his weapon in a crowd, in the absolutely positively most reckless way possible (grabbing the weapon by sticking his finger in the trigger shroud then pulling the trigger), then he puts the weapon away and walks away giving the “It’s all cool” sign? Really? When he put the weapon in his pants, did he think, “yeah, I’m going out to get drunk and dance my butt off?”

    Please, seriously, explain the situation in which a non-police person would perform the same exact act and not get charged criminally? So you’re saying we need two laws? One for the police, and one for civilians?

    Fail.

  18. I think he should be charged. His actions fit the definition of the charge. As a trained agent ahis recklessness raises his behavior to a level of reckless disregard of human life. We all know that it will be very difficult for anyone to sue him. There will be no appropriate punishment unless he is criminally charged. He should also lose his job.

  19. It was clearly negligent to not have the gun secured in the holster by a strap, if he were going to be doing a backflip. It is not criminal, but is being charged as a crime because of the excessive over-reaction to any injuries involving guns. Yes, there are people whose negligence with guns is so bad that their conduct should be charged as a crime, such as people who fail to secure their guns and children are injured, or those dingbat women who allow their mentally ill young adult sons to have guns, but this guy is an FBI agent whose job requires that he be armed 24/7. He’ll probably be fired anyway, due to the bad publicity, and of course he will be sued, so there is no need to pile on with a criminal charge.

    1. It’s a crime if the Colorado penal code says it’s a crime.

      1. No, it’s a crime is the jury says it’s a crime. Right now, he is only accused of committing actions which fall within the statutory definition of a crime.

        1. No, the jury says whether or not the accused committed a crime. The jury does not define crimes. (And, while we’re at it, only a single-digit % of charges are disposed of via a petit jury trial).

  20. I think the FBI is looking to show that it is enforcing every law with every individual after the shellacking they have been taking in the media lately. A shame they were not doing that a few years ago, say about the time they were investigating Hillary Clinton.

    1. It’s a reasonable inference that it’s the county prosecutor in Denver bringing charges, not the U.S. Attorney. I doubt common assault is a federal crime. The articles don’t mention any administrative proceedings against him at the FBI.

    2. That was my thought as well Wally. This story certainly did not go unnoticed at all levels of the FBI. Right about now, every member of the FBI knows the standards that were once the hallmark of this premier law enforcement agency will be under a microscope. The FBI is now dealing with its own Tailhook and USS McCain problems. They won’t be able to sweep under the rug even the most minor of infractions if they ever hope to restore the public’s confidence in their agency and the DOJ. That being said, it won’t go unnoticed by the rank and file agents how those identified in the IG report are disciplined.

        1. J. Edgar Hoover had many shortcomings and the bill of particulars against him is considerable. However, his dubious dealings were contra the political fringe – the Communist Party, obnoxious campus newspapers &c. M.L. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were subjected to FBI abuses. What’s curious about that is that for all Hoover’s animus toward King, he never made the sh!t files on King and his entourage public. King et al provided ample material for blackmailers. (Bayard Rustin had to talk Norwegian police officers out of arresting members of the King entrourage at their hotel when King went to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize; they’d hired a mess of prostitutes and their antics were causing a disturbance).

          Getting James Kutcher’s disability pension cut off and getting Jessica Mitford fired from her job were abuses of public authority. Qualitatively different from siccing the tax inspectors and the flatfeet on the main political opposition. The Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party were never going to amount to much no matter how much classified advertising Jessica Mitford was selling. Had Hoover been angling to ruin the reputation of Averill Harriman or Sam Rayburn, that would have influence the political dynamic of the country. That’s a different thing.

          1. The FBI can’t sic “tax inspectors” on anyone. The IRS makes its own decisions on whom to go after, and they don’t share their info with anyone, up until the time they make a referral to the U.S. Attorney for prosecution.

            1. I neither stated nor implied that the FBI was giving orders to Lois Lerner. However, if you want to be cuss for the hell of it, go ahead.

      1. I regret to inform you that the only “public” which needs their “confidence restored” are the authoritarian boot-lickers who luvs ’em some day glo bozo. I’m also sure that you are aware that your dwindling corp of gullible rubes, dupes, klan-lite wannabbees and mouth-breathers are down to about 38% now. Unless of course, you cry yourself to sleep by hoping that’s “fake news.”

        this is to olly

        1. Unless of course, you cry yourself to sleep by hoping that’s “fake news.”

          You make the false assumption your posts provide news at all, fake or otherwise. You’ve effectively admitted as much. I have no regrets informing you that a post under the name of Mark M. has as much chance of being informative as Hillary Clinton has at being elected POTUS. Good luck though.

    3. Haha. BUT, WHAT ABOUT HILLLLARRYYYYYY! You do, however, win the prize for the most ignorant post of the day. If you’d ever learned to read before posting your canned crap, you would have seen numerous posts where the Agent is being charged with a State offense by a Colorado State prosecutor. Get it? The FBI isn’t charging him. You too, should be aware that reddit is down the hall.

      this is to “another Benghazi hearing, please” wally

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