Friday, August 14, 2009

Philly Man Sentenced in Accidental Shooting reports on the sentencing of a Philadelphia man who accidentally killed his friend and neighbor during a Super Bowl party.

A man who accidentally shot to death the host of a Super Bowl party in Philadelphia has been sentenced to nine to 23 months in prison.

Fifty-year-old Ronald Parncutt had pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other charges in June.

Prosecutors say Parncutt fatally shot his friend and neighbor Christopher Donaghy during the party Feb. 1. Parncutt had picked up a handgun owned by an off-duty police officer at the party and fired, not realizing the gun was real.

Parncutt profusely apologized to Donaghy's family in court on Wednesday.

The Plymouth Township police officer who owned the gun is awaiting trial on charges of recklessly endangering another person.

It's difficult to imagine the circumstances in which a police officer would permit access to his weapon like that. It's difficult to imagine how a 50-year-old man could pick it up, thinking it's a fake weapon, aim it at someone and pull the trigger. Wouldn't the weight of the gun be enough to indicate it's not a toy?

When I was about 20 years old, I met a high-school buddy who had joined the police department. He was in uniform, wearing a sidearm, a revolver. I asked if I could see it. He immediately drew the gun, clicked open the cylinder and dropped the bullets into his hand, closed the cylinder with a flick of the wrist and handed it over to me. I was always impressed with that.

Isn't it common sense for a police officer, or any gun owner for that matter, to take precautions like that? Do you think if Mr. Parncutt is going to do about a year for killing the guy, the police officer will be sentenced to even less? It seems clear to me that the stupidity of the man how pulled the trigger outweighs the stupidity of the gun owner. What do you think?

For crimes like unintentional homicide and reckless endangerment, in other words, for crimes of stupidity, are light sentences the best way to go? What's your opinion?

Please leave a comment.


  1. Hate to tell you, but the anti-gun tripe about police officers being "well trained" are bunk. Some police officers are well trained. Others haven't had lessons in firearms use since the academy, other than shooting their qualifiers, which are astoundingly easy. Having a badge doesn't automatically give you sound judgment, or mean you really know how to use a firearm. The cops that are good with their weapons usually are good because they practice on their own, seek better training on their own, and/or participate in the shooting sports.

    And if you think police gun handling is bad now, just imagine if there was no larger community of civilian gun enthusiasts to create a market for better training, shooting sports, and figuring out what does and doesn't work.

  2. Some (I would hope most) know and respect the Four Rules.

    This is covered by Rule 1.

  3. My son had just turned 21 a week prior to his murder, August 22, 1996, Glendale, Colorado, by a man claiming it was an accident. Whether my son was committing a crime or not, because he is dead he can not tell his side, he did not deserve a bullit in the head.

    The man who shot my son was discharged from the military for psychiatric reasons, which meant he was not to be in possession of a weapon at all. Yet, the Denver police issued this man a license, permit to carry a weapon as a security officer of his own business falsifying information to get it. From a second story apartment window where he lived, he thought he saw someone who looked like they were slashing tires. He takes it upon himself to go and investigate, of the two guns he had, one loaded the other empty, he took the loaded one with him to the parking lot to confront this person. He claims, he just took the gun to scare whoever he was going to confront.

    To answer your question, yes the penalty for this kind of behavior should be the same as any other if a life has been taken.

    I am still waiting for the D.A. in my case to file charges against this guy, got the case reopened, D.A. said a jury would find self defense, at first it was there was no evidence to file charges. Not only does the guy who shot my son have to take responsibility for his actions, but so do the people in our criminal justice system.

    To let you know because I am financially strapped, untrusting of law enforcement, attorneys, I have had to educate myself in the criminal justice system, Associate's degree in 03/09, Bachelor's will have in September 2010.

  4. Terbear, I'm very sorry to learn about the death of your son, Matthew. Thank you for commenting over here and sharing it with us.

    I can't agree with the idea that punishment should be "the same as any other if a life has been taken." Yet I don't think someone should get off scott free if it was an accident.

    It's interesting that the killer was a prohibited person who legally got a gun anyway. How many like that are out there, I wonder.