Former Georgia police chief pleads guilty to shooting wife

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 14, 2015 11:03 AM

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A former Atlanta-area police chief has been sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation for shooting his wife in bed on New Year's Day in an apparent accident that left her partially paralyzed, a prosecutor said Friday.

William McCollom, 58, pleaded guilty on Thursday to a misdemeanor count of reckless conduct, according to Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard.

McCollom, then the police chief of Peachtree City south of Atlanta, accidentally shot his wife while moving a gun he had taken to bed for security, Ballard said.

Although there is no evidence McCollom intentionally tried to hurt his wife, the district attorney sought an indictment against him for reckless conduct because he took a loaded gun to bed after drinking and taking sleep medication, Ballard said.

The chief's wife, Margaret, is "still paralyzed and apparently will be paralyzed for life," said Ballard, adding that she did not want her husband prosecuted.

"He is not a bad man," said Ballard, calling the case "a tragedy all the way around."

McCollom was sentenced as a first offender, meaning he will have no criminal record if he successfully completes probation and pays a $1,000 fine, the prosecutor said.

McCollom, who resigned as chief after the shooting, now lives in Florida, Ballard said.

William and Margaret McCollom divorced after the shooting but continue to live together, the prosecutor said.

(Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Letitia Stein and Eric Beech)