ATLANTA (AP) — A police chief in suburban Atlanta resigned Wednesday before a grand jury decides whether to charge him with a misdemeanor crime for accidentally shooting his sleeping wife after drinking alcohol and taking sleep medication, officials said.
Police Chief William McCollom called 911 early New Year's Day to report accidentally shooting his ex-wife, Margaret, as the couple slept in their bed. A prosecutor plans to seek a misdemeanor charge — but not a felony — against McCollom. The couple divorced in 1999 and later reunited.
"I have had had two families in Peachtree City - my police family and my personal family," McCollom said in a statement published on the city's website. "In light of the recent tragedy in my personal family, I need to continue to focus my time and efforts there."
Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard has said the shooting left Margaret McCollom paralyzed below the waist.
Ballard said investigators found no evidence that McCollom intended to harm Margaret. However, the prosecutor said the shooting could have been avoided. He plans to ask a grand jury to charge McCollom with reckless conduct.
The chief told investigators he drank alcohol and took medication to help him sleep. McCollom had a loaded handgun under the sheets.
"The gun was in the bed, I went to move it, and I put it to a side and it went off," McCollom told a dispatcher, according to a recording of the call.
McCollom and his attorney did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Prior to moving to Peachtree City, McCollom served as police chief in Tequesta, Florida, and as assistant chief in Delray Beach, Florida. He started his law enforcement career in Wyoming.
Court records show McCollom has divorced four times, including once from Margaret McCollom. None of his divorce filings or police personnel files describe any instances of violence or recklessness.
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