Caught on camera: Hardeman County deputy’s gun goes off in convenience store

BOLIVAR, Tenn. -- In the heart of Bolivar, the BP station right in the middle of town gets a lot of traffic.

“It’s pretty busy all the time," Reggie Dortch said.

That’s part of what makes video obtained by WREG inside so concerning. It shows a deputy with the Hardeman County Sheriff’s office standing in the aisle at the BP convenience store. He’s holding a gun that goes off and shoots toward the ground.

“He should be more careful," Thomas Dillard said.

No one was hurt, including the BP store clerk who's also in the video. But those who go to the store often know that’s lucky.

“It could’ve hurt a kid, anybody," Dortch said.

Bolivar Police said they didn’t hear about the incident until a week after it happened.

According to an incident report, a man approached an officer in Toone and said he’d been pumping gas with his family when he heard a gunshot inside the store. He then saw a deputy leave with a pistol in his hand.

Officers said the BP clerk said he'd been told not to tell anyone about the incident.

“He’s learned his lesson," Sheriff John Doolen said.

Doolen identified the deputy as Investigator Patrick Perry. He said he’s been with the force since 2010.

He said he’s only had a few violations in the past for not turning in reports on time.

In this case, the sheriff said Perry was handling his personal firearm and was off-duty.

“The deputy was also handling the weapon like he was trained to handle it with the barrel pointed down at all times and in a safe manner,” Doolen said.

Dillard, a veteran, has lived in Hardeman county his whole life, aside from when he deployed. He said he'd had a gun misfire before, but in this situation the deputy should’ve been more careful.

“It should’ve been in his holster,” Dillard said.

The Sheriff said Perry was showing his gun to the clerk and it accidentally went off.

But the clerk said he was scared, startled and had his back to the deputy.

“It could’ve been an accident. I don’t want him to lose his job. But he should be on some kind of punishment for it,” Dortch said.

“If that had happened and killed somebody it would be different. That would be a different charge. It would be a different thing," Jerome Jarrett said.

The sheriff says Perry got five days suspension without pay and had to take a gun remediation class.

District Attorney Mark Davidson said his office looked in to it but didn’t prosecute because they did not find criminal intent.

WREG requested Perry's personnel file to confirm details about his history with the department. It showed he worked for the Corrections Corporation of America for three years prior to becoming a deputy. As a deputy, he's had several reprimands for issues like not showing up to court for two subpoenas, and not filing an arrest warrant in time, causing the court to have to drop a domestic violence case.