By the time the game warden arrived, Kevin Kadamus was sitting down and holding his 17-year-old son in his lap, a blanket covering the boy's bloodied body.That's the opening of an AP piece entitled "Hunting deaths pose challenge for prosecutors". As one investigator put it, "There isn't an exemption under the law for family members being charged."
"He was trying to talk to his son, encouraging him to hang on," Warden David Gregory said.
Jacob Kadamus couldn't hang on. With a 12-gauge shotgun, his father had mistakenly shot him in the torso on the opening day of Vermont's turkey hunting season. He died at the scene.
Now, Kevin Kadamus must cope with more than remorse and grief. The 45-year-old computer consultant and father of three has been charged with manslaughter.
In 2006, according to the CDC (the latest stats available), 611 people age 10 and up died as the result of an unintentional gunshot wound. The CDC doesn't break that data down into hunting accidents, but you can see that they are pretty rare overall. Some are called "accidents" and no charges are filed, but as one game warden was quoted, "There's three distinct actions that have to take place: You have to aim the firearm, take the safety off and you have to pull the trigger. None of those actions are ever accidental. The simplest way to avoid an accident is to identify your target." Shooting someone accidentally requires multiple violations of the four rules of safe gun handling. It's not accidental. At the very least it's negligent.
But is criminal prosecution called for when the victim is a family member? Is the purpose of such prosecution punishment? What punishment can be greater than the knowledge of ones responsibility for the death of a loved one? Deterrence? The incidence is so rare to begin with that I find that idea laughable. Justice? For whom? Who is served?
It's different when the negligence is that of someone outside the family, as in the case of the two Oklahoma police officers involved in the accidental shooting death of a 5 year-old, or the complete negligent misuse of a firearm such as the moron who shot his wife while trying to use his .22 pistol as a drill.
Or is it? I'm interested in your thoughts on this.