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Officer Of The Year Facing Charges After He Tripped, Discharged Weapon

Grand Rapids, MI – The 2021 Grand Rapids Police Officer of the Year is facing charges after he tripped and accidentally discharged his gun while he about to arrest an auto theft suspect.

The incident occurred at about 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 9, 2021 while police were watching a suspected stolen vehicle parked near Cass Avenue SE and Sycamore Street, MLive reported.

The suspect vehicle was a black Audi that was alleged to have two stolen guns inside it.

Police said the stolen Audi had been involved in a shooting earlier that day, MLive reported.

Officers were watching when the owner of the Audi left his home and approached his vehicle.

Police converged on him to take him into custody, according to the police report.

That was when Grand Rapids police Officer Gregory Bauer tripped and accidentally discharged his firearm, MLive reported.

Nobody was shot, but the bullet struck a nearby house.

“Why did you shoot, sir?” Davionne Smith, the driver, asked in the bodycam video, according to MLive.

“I tripped,” Officer Bauer replied.

It turned out the car officers had been watching was not the stolen Audi they were looking for.

Smith’s attorney has questioned why Grand Rapids police officers didn’t check the license plate on the vehicle before they approach his client, MLive reported.

But police said they hadn’t been able to get the license plate number of the stolen vehicle when the earlier shooting occurred.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker announced charges against Officer Bauer on Jan. 21, WZZM reported.

Becker said there was no intent for assault in the case.

“There’s not a shred of evidence in this case that there was the intent by the officer” to hurt or kill Smith, the prosecutor told reporters when he announced the charges.

The officer was arraigned on a misdemeanor charge of careless discharge of a firearm causing property damage valued less than $50 on March 8, according to MLive.

If convicted, Officer Bauer could be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and fined $100, WZZM reported.

The judge has scheduled a settlement conference for March 29, MLive reported.

Written by
Tom Gantert

Tom Gantert graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Tom started in the newspaper business in 1983. He has worked at the Jackson Citizen Patriot (Michigan), Lansing State Journal (Michigan), Ann Arbor News (Michigan), Vineland Daily-Journal (Michigan), North Hills News Record (Pennsylvania) and USA Today (Virginia). He is also currently the managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential, a daily news site of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Tom is the father of a Michigan State Police trooper.

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Written by Tom Gantert


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