By Daniel Kelley
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – A state police officer in Philadelphia was charged with reckless endangerment on Tuesday but avoided homicide charges for the September shooting death of a fellow trooper.
Prosecutors say Corporal Richard Schroeter, 42, was discussing the trigger mechanism on his weapon in front of a groupof five officers when the incident occurred at the Montgomery County Public Safety Complex in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.
His finger pulled the trigger, discharging a bullet that struck and killed Trooper David Kedra, 26.
Schroeter faces one count of reckless endangerment for each officer in the room when the gun discharged.
A grand jury investigating the case rejected more serious charges of homicide and involuntary manslaughter. It recommended the lesser charges because Schroeter allegedly failed to ensure that his weapon was unloaded and pointed away from other people, according to a joint press release issued by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and the Pennsylvania State Police.
Schroeter was arrested early Tuesday morning and held in lieu of $50,000 bail while he awaited trial.
“This is one of the hardest things for this department to go through, but I believe the charges recommended by the grand jury are appropriate,” Marcus Brown, the acting commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, said in a statement.
Shroeter’s attorney did not return calls and emails seeking comment.
Kedra, a state police member since 2012, was the second Pennsylvania trooper shot dead in September.
His death came as the department was searching for survivalist Eric Frein, who is accused of killing one trooper and wounding another in an ambush at a police barracks on Sept. 12.
Frein led police on a seven-week manhunt through the parts of the Pocono Mountains before his capture on Oct. 30.
(Editing by Karen Brooks and Andrew Hay)