Friday, March 6, 2015

Maryland Man Who Accidentally Shot Friend Given Suspended Sentence

Local news reports

Ryan Joshua Washington, 22 of Upper Marlboro, was facing a nightmare in Charles County Circuit Court Wednesday, March 4 before Judge James H. West.

Washington was facing a charge of reckless endangerment stemming from an accidental shooting July 31, 2013.

The victim told West that the shooting was a “total accident,” saying Washington was his best friend and they were conducting training exercises, clearing a building, when the defendant’s shotgun discharged.

The blast ricocheted off a ceiling fan and sprayed him with buckshot.

“It was an accident,” he explained to the court. “He and his mother have been helping me with my hospital bill. Honestly, I don’t think putting him in jail would really serve any purpose. He’s a good kid. I’m asking the court to please have mercy.”

West handed down a three-year sentence.

“I’m going to suspend that and give you two years of unsupervised probation,” the judge said.
The court also required Washington perform 40 hours of community service.


  1. This got left out. Perhaps you thought it not germain, though the judge certainly seems to think it was in light of his sentence.

    "The victim stated that the injury, “messed up some nerves under my right arm. It was actually my weapon. I thought it was unloaded. I gave him the weapon. I blame myself. As a leader and certified instructor, I put him in that position.”

    1. Is that the way our justice system works? If the victim says the criminal should go free, he should? Doesn't matter what he did, the guy had a responsibility to know if the gun was loaded, or not. Of course it shows that this gun loon certified instructor, should have his certification taken away.

    2. Peter, that is the function of the judge. To be an impartial person to weigh the facts and determine how best to mete out justice. In this case, he heard the facts and saw that reparations were already being made.
      I'm assuming you aren't happy with his decision?

    3. Yes that certainly is germane. I think the suspended sentence was exactly right. I especially liked that the gun was pointed in a safe direction.

    4. Amazing how you think it's fine gun loons have no responsibility when handling guns.

    5. Howdy Peter, according to the article, the person charged started taking responsibility before the trial by helping pay the hospital bill. And the person injured took some responsibility for not clearing the weapon before giving it to him.

    6. As a certified instructor his punishment should reflect being held to a higher standard. If a rape victim forgives a rapist and asks the judge for mercy for that rapist, doesn't mean the rapist should not be given jail time. Yes, I disagree with his decision, with good cause. Part of punishment is deterrence. What will deter the idiot decisions of the next certified instructor, if he knows he will get a slap on the hand?

    7. What will deter the idiot decisions of the next certified instructor, if he knows he will get a slap on the hand?

      Unless your idea of "a slap on the hand" is a pretty brutal slap, I'd say it falls rather short of being "sprayed with buckshot," as the article described what happened to this instructor.

    8. Peter,

      Did you not read SSG's original comment? It was the Instructor who was the victim who got shot, NOT the shooter. The instructor was the one asking for lenience for the student because the instructor felt HE was responsible for what happened to him more than the student was.

    9. So SJ you are in favor of letting off a guy who negligently discharged his gun, just because the guy who got hit claimed it was his fault? How was the guy who got hit responsible for a negligent discharge?
      Brutal slap TS? Unsupervised probation and community service work? That's not a brutal slap. A brutal slap would have been if he had to serve the full 3 years.

    10. "So SJ you are in favor of letting off a guy who negligently discharged his gun, just because the guy who got hit claimed it was his fault?"

      Did he get off? On top of his dealing with various legal fees and financial support freely given to his friend to help with his medical expenses, if you observe the suspended sentence, it would also make him a prohibited person. At least in the eyes of federal law. The question on the 4473 asks if a person has ever been convicted of a crime where the judge could sentence you to more than twelve months. This seems to apply to that question.
      Perhaps some of our more learned legal minds here can clarify, especially since there is no mention of a reduction of charge based on completion of probation.

    11. Peter,

      Nice one. Ignore the fact that you were castigating the instructor as the shooter instead of the shootee, and instead throw out an ink defense by suggesting I was advocating a position I never did take.


      I couldn't say for sure without looking at the Maryland law and court documents, but I think you've called this right. There isn't any indication that there is any sort of diversion or expungement anticipated, and the multi-year sentence will make him a prohibited person.

    12. By default SJ, you did.
      SS, funny, innocent, or guilty, defending oneself against charges means an inconvenience. As you like to say, that's the way our system works. He's luck the judge DID show him mercy.

  2. A ricochet shot? Really?