Negligent discharges happen. They shouldn’t but they do. Often, they seem to happen to the people who should know better. People like police officers, gunsmiths, firearm instructors, and so on.
One Chicagoland judge found his life flipped upside down after what appears to have been a negligent discharge on his part.
Circuit Judge Patrick O’Shea, 67, of Wheaton, was arrested Friday after a warrant was issued for the Sept. 15 incident, according to a statement from the Wheaton Police Department.
On Monday, DuPage County Circuit Court Chief Judge Kathryn Creswell issued a statement saying the circuit court’s executive committee removed O’Shea “from all judicial duties until further order of the court,” according to a copy of the statement.
He has also been stripped of his unrestricted access to the courthouse and will be escorted by security officers in the event that he has court-related business, according to the statement.
According to a source familiar with the case, the incident was not reported to police until about two weeks after it occurred.
Residents in another unit in the building in which O’Shea lives found a hole in their unit. They suspected it may have been a bullet hole, but did not report it to police until later when they found the bullet in their residence, the source said.
Investigators were able to trace the path of the bullet to O’Shea’s unit, the source said.
Now, again, negligent discharges happen, but they’re not something that should be treated nonchalantly. They’re a serious matter. Someone very easily could have been hurt. Assuming, of course, that it’s a negligent discharge. Without seeing any evidence, it sounds like one, but what we do know is that a gun was fired and police believe it was O’Shea who pulled the trigger.
He’s now charged with reckless conduct, which is a misdemeanor, and was released on $5,000 bond. He also has to hand over all firearms and firearm permits to police. The report does not mention whether or not any of these will be returned to him.
Law enforcement is also unsure of precisely which gun of O’Shea’s was used.
I get that O’Shea is charged with a gun-related crime, but surrendering his guns and permits for a misdemeanor non-domestic violence charge seems extreme. A charge like reckless conduct is what you level at people who had a moment that was criminally stupid, but it’s not a “no guns for you” kind of thing.
That said, the judge allegedly discharged a firearm in a manner where it went into his neighbor’s home, then said nothing about it. No offer to pay to repair the damages, nothing. He apparently tried to pretend it never happened, which adds to that whole “criminally stupid” thing.
Obviously, O’Shea is still innocent before the eyes of the law and will have to be judged himself. He may not be a judge for too long after that, based on the circuit court chief judge’s comments, but that’s also not a sure thing. Either way, I suspect that O’Shea had left his gun alone that night.