GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An attorney is calling for more serious charges against a Grand Rapids Police Department officer who said he fired a shot on accident, missing an innocent man and hitting a home.
Officer Gregory Bauer has been charged with misdemeanor careless discharge of a firearm causing property damage less than $50. Announcing the charge in January, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said that he found Bauer had cause to draw his gun but that there was no evidence he intended to cause harm. Becker did, however, decide that Bauer’s actions met the legal definition of carelessness.
In a letter to Becker dated June 22 (PDF), Davionne Smith’s attorney John Beason asked that the prosecutor issue a more serious charge like assault with intent to commit murder or felonious assault.
On Dec. 9, 2021, police said they were looking for a stolen car and suspect they thought was armed. They thought they saw the car parked at a home so they set up a perimeter and waited for the driver, Smith, to come out. When he did, Bauer ran toward him and fired his gun. When Smith asked why, Bauer can be heard in body camera video saying, “I tripped.” The bullet hit a building and no one was hurt. It soon became apparent that Smith hadn’t done anything wrong and his car wasn’t stolen.
Beason, the attorney, argued in his letter to Becker that the bodycam video “shows no indication of any stumble ‘trip’, fall, or any other external force that could cause a gun to discharge.”
“The victim and public are aware that triggers do not pull themselves and a substantial, significant amount of pressure is needed to pull a trigger,” Beason wrote. “Pulling the trigger of a gun is a decisive act by the design of the dangerous device; it cannot be accomplished without choosing and acting to do so.”
He said he doesn’t think the evidence supports Bauer’s claim of firing on accident.
Smith has sued GRPD and the city, claiming assault, battery and gross negligence and asking for $7.5 million. He has also asked for a public apology and for all GRPD officers to undergo cultural sensitivity training.
Smith previously told News 8 he was traumatized by the shooting, saying he gets “real jittery” and “starts sweating” when he sees a police officer.
“…It’s a fearful moment because you don’t know what’s going to happen when you see a GRPD officer or any officer,” Smith said.