Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Officer shot with blank files lawsuit

Recruit trainer, city, police dept. named

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Cincinnati police officer who was shot with a blank at close range during a training exercise last year is suing the city, the police department and the officer who fired the shot.

        Officer Rebecca Hopkins was shot in the lower back with a .38-caliber blank round Nov. 18 during a training session. The heat and force from the powder put Officer Hopkins, who was a recruit at the time, in critical condition.

        Officer Hopkins lost her spleen and left kidney to the blast at the Evendale target range. She became a beat officer in July after completing physical therapy. She works in District 3.

        Training Officer David Simpson, also named in the lawsuit, fired the shot that struck Officer Hopkins. The suit seeks compensatory damages in excess of $25,000 and a jury trial.

        The suit said the city, the police division and Officer Simpson acted negligently. The suit further said the city and police division had no “ade quate” policy regarding the usage of blank cartridges during training.

        “The container in which the blank cartridges were delivered to the city had a specific warning to the effect that firearms loaded with the cartridges were not to be pointed at animals or humans,” the suit said.

        During the training exercise, Officer Hopkins was instructed to lie on her stomach in the training field, the suit said. When she did, the suit says, Officer Simpson pointed his firearm at Officer Hopkins' back and “intentionally pulled the trigger.”

        After the accident, Cincinnati police suspended the use of blanks in training and mandated that all recruits wear bulletproof vests at the division's target range.

        Officer Hopkins, 26, is the daughter of retired Cincinnati Police Division Officer Larry Hopkins.

        Officer Simpson resigned from the Special Weapons and Tactics unit in April. A police spokesman said then that being removed or resigning from the SWAT unit is not considered a disciplinary measure.

        Ted Schoch, director of the Cincinnati Police Academy, which runs the citizens police academy, has said they use disabled guns except at the firing range.


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