Jackson Co. sheriff’s deputy resigns after accidental shooting in jail

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) – A Jackson County sheriff's deputy hands in his badge after accidentally firing a gun inside the jail Monday. Luckily, no was injured.

Sheriff David Lucas confirmed a six-year veteran of his force decided to leave after a practical joke goes awry. Deputy Travis Engler stepped down following an interal investigation into what Lucas calls a serious lapse in judgment.

"I've been sick about it ever since I got the call Monday night," Lucas said. "I've just been sick."

Around 11 p.m. Monday, Lucas received a call about a shot fired inside his department.

"What starts out to be an innocent practical joke could have turned deadly in a fraction of a second," he said.

Two Tuckerman police officers brought three prisoners to the Jackson County Detention Center in Newport. The prisoners were being booked into the jail, and a group of law enforcement officers gathered in the dispatch area. One of the Tuckerman police officers laid his gun on the counter. Deputy Engler then began to take the weapon apart as a practical joke. The gun discharged, and a bullet pierced the pant leg of the other officer from Tuckerman.

"No officer was shot. There was no injury," Lucas said. "The only injury was a minor injury to the hand of the officer that had fired the weapon. It was just a powder burn."

Engler was sent home Monday night following the incident. Lucas began an internal investigation the next morning, but, by Tuesday afternoon, Engler came to turn in his badge. "When something like this happens, it just tears you up," Lucas said.

Deputies go through yearly training on firearm safety, and Lucas met with his department Tuesday evening to discuss yet again how an accident can end a career.

"The officer of this department are better than that," Lucas added. "It was just a lapse in judgment that turned bad, and, as a result, an officer's lost his career."

The Tuckerman chief of police said he had no comment regarding the incident. The names of the two Tuckerman officers are also unknown at this time.

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