NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The Newport News Police Department confirmed one of their officer’s is facing a charge after his 2-year-old son accidentally discharged the father’s duty weapon, resulting in the boy’s death, according to a report.
Stefhone McCombs, 25, was charged in a criminal complaint saying the fatal incident occurred on Oct. 29, 2021, after he returned home from a shift and left his weapon unsecured on the couch. Hours later, the firearm remained in place when the child picked up the gun and it discharged, 13 News Now reported.
Although the grief stricken officer rushed his son to Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital, the child did not survive.
Chief Steve Drew of the Newport News Police Department called it a “tragic accident,” saying he spent time with McCombs at the hospital after the horrible tragedy occurred.
“He’s having a hard time. He’s been suffering since October 29th,” the chief said. “The victim is also someone who received a summons for this incident and that weighs heavy on me.”
During the investigation, McCombs said he did not usually leave his firearms unattended and accessible to his children. This was merely an oversight.
The officer was issued a Class 1 Misdemeanor charge on February 8.
Newport News Police Chief Drew called the incident with Officer McComb’s son “a tragic accident” and says he was with McCombs in the hospital when everything happened in October @13NewsNow pic.twitter.com/QruTdm1IIu
— Anne Sparaco (@AnneSparaco) February 25, 2022
Drew highlighted the reasons McCombs didn’t face a felony charge after detectives conducted a thorough investigation, 13 News Now reported.
“Felony child neglect covers a lot of things. A couple of the keywords are ‘willful intent, reckless endangerment, putting a child in harm’s way continually.’ That is different than what we had here. This is a horrible decision and a tragic event by accident and poor judgment,” said Drew.
A reporter for the news outlet asked the chief why he didn’t issued a press release regarding the incident.
“I balance that in the seat that I sit in,” Drew replied. “I did not want to publicize, sensationalize, or highlight the death of a two-year-old child from an accident…unless there is a danger to the community.”
According to Drew, the officer remains suspended as the case plays out.
McCombs has been with the police agency for about 18 months.
Drew said he has regular conversations with officers about weapon safety, particularly in light of the circumstances. He said it’s a reminder to his personnel of the dangers these types of mistakes can create.
According to 13 News Now, the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case in lieu of the Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.