No Charges To Be Filed In Shooting Death Of 4 Year Old
Date 2014/3/3 10:10:00 | Topic: News
|(news-leader.com)- The Christian County prosecutor has determined there will be no charges filed in the October death of a 4-year-old that happened while a man was target shooting.|
Prosecutor Amy Fite told a reporter that she made the decision not to file charges after reviewing statements from the sheriff’s department. She didn’t explain her rationale, but sheriff’s documents released show the man who was target shooting did not know the child, Zoie Dougan, was in front of him when he fired a rifle.
In addition, statements say he had not been drinking, was distraught and apologetic after the shooting and said he didn’t realize he had shot the child, even after he fired the gun.
The child’s mother, who was present when the shooting happened, also called it accidental and told deputies the target shooting man should not get in trouble, statements show. The man’s name is redacted in reports released by the sheriff.
The only critical wording in the statements appears in a line showing that a sheriff’s detective told the man “the direction he was firing the weapon was extremely dangerous.” The detective also told the man that because he was shooting toward a road — its name was redacted in the report — that could hurt someone and would be considered “carelessness.”
Officials had previously said the home was at 5813 S. Highway U.
The deputies’ reports, the first public records released in the shooting, explain the series of events that led to the child’s death on Oct. 28. They also describe the frantic, emotional scene deputies encountered when they arrived at the house.
According to the reports, Zoie and her mother, Alyssa Dougan, had gone to their friends’ house near Rogersville so Zoie could play with the family’s children.
Alyssa Dougan and a woman who lived at the home on south Highway U were outside near the driveway painting a headboard, with the children playing nearby, documents say.
A man who lived at the home had gone next door to his father’s house to get a .22-caliber rifle to use for squirrel hunting. He told investigators that he walked through the yard to a shed, where he planned to “sight” the rifle by shooting at items in a burn pile.
The man said he made eye contact with the women as he walked through the yard. One of the women told investigators she saw the man carrying a case but thought the case contained tools.
The man said he loaded the rifle as he walked to the shed, then leaned against the shed to steady himself while he aimed at a bottle in the burn pile, about 70 feet away. He said he kept one eye closed while he focused on the bottle, according to the reports.
The women told investigators that Zoie and a young girl who live at the home were running toward a swing set in the yard about the same time, the reports say.
According to the reports, the area in the yard where Zoie was shot was roughly between the shed and the swing set.
The man said he fired one shot, then heard one of the women yell, “What was that?” He turned around and started walking to find out what the woman was yelling about when he saw both women running to the area where he had just fired, the reports say.
He then looked to that area and saw Zoie lying on the ground, according to the report.
“(The man) said he never saw Zoie enter his sight picture as he looked through the scope,” the report says.
Alyssa Dougan told investigators that she heard the sound of the gunshot but didn’t know what it was. She said she saw Zoie lying in the grass but that Zoie often played by lying in the grass. When Dougan called out for her daughter and she didn’t respond, she rushed over, the documents say.
When Dougan got to Zoie and saw her bleeding from the head, she shouted for someone to call 911.
When deputies arrived, they reported Alyssa Dougan was crying and saying, “This can’t be real” and “Why?” The reports say she also told deputies, “Don’t let (the man) get in trouble, it was an accident.”
Emergency personnel attempted to save Zoie at the scene. They reported she was unconscious and was struggling to breathe.
Zoie was taken by helicopter to Cox hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The report says a doctor who examined her at the hospital said the bullet appeared to have entered from the left rear side of her head.
The man was tested at the scene for alcohol, and it was determined there was none in his system. He told deputies he was “in shock” and “could not believe what he had just done.”
“(The man) was crying and emotionally upset as he described the chain of events, claiming it was a complete accident,” the report says.
In a later interview with investigators, the man told them “this is something he will never forget and that he should have known better.”
He told officers he knew the location where he was shooting was a dangerous location in which to shoot and said “It wasn’t good judgment. I understand that.”
Days after Zoie died, a friend of the family, Mark Cowsert, told the News-Leader that Alyssa Dougan was positive the incident was an accident and that Dougan was “showing grace” to the shooter, who was her close friend.