ATLANTA – A Georgia police chief who said he accidentally shot his ex-wife while they slept was indicted Wednesday on a misdemeanor reckless-conduct charge, a prosecutor said.
Peachtree City Police Chief William McCollom called 911 early New Year's Day to report inadvertently shooting his ex-wife, Margaret, as they slept in their suburban Atlanta home. The shooting left Margaret McCollom paralyzed below the waist. McCollom resigned from the chief's job in March.
Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard said investigators found no evidence McCollom intended to harm Margaret McCollom. However, Ballard said he concluded the shooting could have been prevented.
The prosecutor said McCollom told investigators he drank alcohol and took medication to help him sleep. Ballard said the investigation showed that McCollom, a former firearms instructor, woke during the night when he heard barking dogs, prompting him to grab his service handgun from a dresser and search the house. He returned to bed with the gun and told investigators he woke next to the sound of a gunshot, Ballard said. The chief said he suspected he might have been trying in his sleep to move the gun to a nightstand.
"The gun was in the bed, I went to move it, and I put it to a side and it went off," McCollom told a 911 dispatcher, according to a recording of the call.
Margaret McCollom told police at the hospital that she was asleep when the shooting happened but believed it was an accident, according to state investigators. The couple divorced in 1999 but later reunited.
"When I look at the facts, it appears to me that this is reckless conduct," Ballard said.
If convicted, McCollom could face a year in jail. McCollom's defense attorney, Thomas Cook Jr., did not respond to a message seeking comment.
McCollom worked in policing for nearly 30 years in Wyoming, Florida and Georgia. Personnel records reviewed by The Associated Press showed no evidence of criminality, serious misconduct or recklessness in his past.