District Attorney Scott Ballard announced Thursday that he will seek a charge of misdemeanor reckless conduct for Peachtree City Police Chief William McCollom following the GBI’s investigation into the New Year’s Day incident in which he shot Margaret McCollom.
Ballard said the GBI’s “very thorough” investigation included “dozens of interviews, many hours of video and audio tapes, forensic testing, and background regarding Chief McCollom.” He said the available evidence did not indicate the shooting was intentional.
“There is no evidence to suggest that Chief McCollom intentionally shot Mrs. McCollom, nor did the investigation reveal any motive to cause her harm,” Ballard said in an official press release.
Ballard revealed certain details of McCollom’s version of events, including that the Chief had drank some amount of whiskey and had taken two Aleve PM in order to sleep, which he told investigators was common.
McCollom said he had gone to bed around 9:30 p.m. New Year’s Eve after consuming the whiskey and sleep medication with his service weapon, a 9mm Glock, in its holster on the dresser next to his bed. He said at some point in the night he was awakened by barking dogs and got out of bed, taking his gun with him, to check the house. He said he found nothing, and when he returned to bed he placed the gun under the sheets beside his body.
McCollom claims he was asleep when the gun went off, sometime between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. He believes he was attempting to move the gun in his sleep to the bedside table when it went off, but Ballard indicated McCollom doesn’t have a good idea of what happened because he said he was asleep.
The investigation showed that the spent shell was blocked by McCollom’s right palm, leaving a powder wound. Ballard said McCollom actually thought he might have shot himself in the hand at first.
Margaret McCollom was sleeping on her stomach and was shot in the side, according to Chief McCollom’s version of events.
Ballard described the wound as life-threatening and indicated she is currently at “Shepherd Spinal Center where she is being treated for paralysis below the waist and numerous complications.”
“Our greatest concern is for the health and recovery of Mrs. McCollom,” Ballard said. “Our next concern is for the administration of justice. Although at the present time there appears to be no evidence to support felony charges due to the accidental nature of the shooting, we do believe that the evidence should be presented to a grand jury of the possible charge of reckless conduct since the Chief took a loaded gun to bed with him after ingesting alcohol and sleep medication.”
Ballard said that misdemeanor reckless conduct carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
A grand jury can choose to indict McCollom with a more serious charge. The case will be presented to a grand jury on April 15.