Pop quiz: How many months/years would the average American law-abiding gun owner have to spend in jail if he accidentally shot another person at a bar? Answer: none…if that gun owner also happens to be a FBI agent.
The FBI agent charged with accidentally shooting a man after doing a backflip on the dance floor at a Denver bar last summer will avoid jail time after pleading guilty Friday to third-degree assault.
Under his deal with prosecutors, Chase Bishop, 30, immediately was sentenced to two years probation. He was also fined $1,200 and ordered to pay restitution to the victim. Denver District Judge Karen Brody cited Bishop’s lack of criminal history in her decision to accept the plea agreement.
Maybe we’re incurably cynical, but if Joe or Jane Sixpack dropped a gun while busting a move on a honky tonk dance floor, and then negligently shot a bystander as they tried to pick it up, they’d be spending a not insignificant amount of their time in the local graybar hotel.
But this was a federal law enforcement agent.
“My whole goal in life is to care, protect and serve people,” Bishop told the judge on Friday. “I never expected the result of my actions to lead to something like this.”
So while Bishop’s name has been enshrined in our Irresponsible Gun Owner Hall of Fame right next to that of DEA agent Lee Paige, the news isn’t all bad. If he keeps his nose clean, Bishop may even have the term of his probation reduced.
Bishop, who was in Denver on FBI business when the incident occurred, will serve his probation in Georgia. (Denver District Judge Karen) Brody said she could be receptive to ending his probation after one year if Bishop complies with the terms.
“This is a tragic situation,” Brody said after she announced Bishop’s sentence. “It’s a lesson for everyone: How decisions, when you’re not being conscious of what you’re doing, decisions you make carelessly, with negligence, can turn into really serious consequences.
“I think in the future,” she said to Bishop, “you will never make that kind of mistake again.”
The FBI declined to say on Friday whether Bishop will continue to work for the agency. “It is our standard practice not to comment on personnel matters,” FBI spokeswoman Kelsey Pietranton said.
The nation’s top law enforcement agency continues to distinguish itself on an almost daily basis.