- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A former Springfield police officer who said he accidentally shot a panhandler in the back is offering to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge in a deal that would require him to give up his law enforcement career.

Greene County prosecutors announced the deal Tuesday to charge Jason Shuck, 35, with misdemeanor third-degree assault for the shooting of Eric David Butts, 27, on May 9. Shuck has said he meant to use his Taser but accidentally grabbed his pistol before he shot Butts, who was panhandling near a Walmart.

Butts, who was unarmed and running away when he was shot, suffered severe internal injuries but is expected to make a full recovery, The Springfield News-Leader reported (https://sgfnow.co/1p8kTBP ).

The proposed agreement requires Shuck, who resigned earlier this month from the police department, to surrender his peace officer license and to never carry a firearm for work. He won’t have a criminal record if he completes two years of unsupervised probation.

“The defendant is adequately punished,” said Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson.

Associate Judge Ron Carrier delayed sentencing until Sept. 3 so he could review the case and Shuck’s record.

“How does a suspended imposition of sentence protect the public after the two years of probation is over?” Carrier asked.

Shuck’s attorney, Tyson Martin, said Shuck was a good police officer with no previous complaints about use of force before the shooting.

During the hearing, a few people protested outside the courthouse against Shuck being charged with only a misdemeanor. Protester Scott Youngkin said any other citizen who shot someone in the back would face a harsher charge.

“We all know that third-degree assault is the most lenient of charges,” he said.

Butts and his attorney approved the proposed deal, Patterson said. Butts has said he’ll seek damages against the city.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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