A Morehead City police officer will not face criminal charges after he accidentally shot a fellow officer during training, according to District Attorney Scott Thomas.
Thomas said Tuesday in a release that the actions of Marvin Willis III were not criminal.
“Former officer Willis demonstrated a high level of negligence in failing to properly clear his handgun before entering the training exercise; however, his negligent conduct does not rise to the level of criminal intent required to prove that he committed a criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt,” Thomas said in news release.
Thomas’ announcement comes a week after Willis was fired as an officer with the Morehead City Police Department.
Morehead City Manager David Whitlow said Willis was terminated from the police department last week after the department’s internal investigation found that he had been dishonest.
“He was terminated for being untruthful,” Whitlow said.
According to investigators, Willis shot fellow officer Garrett Hardin in the chest on Oct. 2 while they were training in the parking lot outside the police department in Morehead City. Family members said Hardin was not wearing a bullet-proof vest as part of the training.
Hardin, a Havelock High graduate, was seriously injured and hospitalized at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville for a week before being released to continue his recovery at home. He underwent surgery and was placed in an induced coma while in the Greenville hospital.
What was termed a negligent discharge of Willis’ weapon was reported to the Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission, according to the release, and Willis could face a negligence action in civil court.
Willis had been on administrative leave prior to his termination last week as the investigations progressed.
The Morehead City Police Department, according to the release, will conduct a review of its officer training program to avoid the possibility of a similar situation occurring again.