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Teen shot when officer’s weapon ‘accidentally’ discharged during high school drill

A high school senior in Indiana was shot during a law enforcement vocational training session when one of the deputies conducting the training session “accidentally” fired his service weapon, rather than a “dummy gun,” reports say.

On Thursday morning, Deputy Tim DisPennett, a 19-year veteran of the Vermillion County Sheriff’s Office, was conducting a vocational law enforcement class at South Vermillion County High School in Clinton, Indiana, about 15 miles north of Terre Haute. During a demonstration, DisPennett reportedly fired his service revolver, and the bullet from his gun grazed a male student.

“During the course of instruction today,” Dave Chapman, superintendent of the South Vermillion Community School Corp., told reporters, “they were going through some drills, and during the course of that drill, the deputy’s service revolver accidentally was discharged, hitting one of our students.”

“[S]omehow, the instructor reached for the dummy gun and got his service revolver and fired that accidentally,” Chapman later added.

First aid was immediately administered to the senior, who was then transported to a Terre Haute hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Chapman claimed that the student described the pain as “a sting.”

The young man’s parents were apprised of the situation and met him at the hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not in school tomorrow,” Chapman said.

Other students requested to leave campus for the day, and Chapman stated that those students whose parents signed them out were permitted to leave.

“I don’t know a lot will be going on educationally the rest of the day,” he admitted.

Indiana State Police will investigate the incident and will conduct interviews with the deputies and the students who were in the classroom at the time. DisPennett has been placed on administrative leave, per department protocol.

DisPennett is also a school resource officer, though he was not operating in that capacity at the time of the incident.

“He was being an instructor,” ISP Sgt. Matt Ames confirmed.

Once the ISP has completed its investigation, “detectives will submit a full report of the incident to the Vermillion County Prosecutor’s Office for review,” Ames added.

Officials have described the vocational course, which has been offered for three or four years, as “popular” with students. Chapman added that students always use “dummy guns” during the class. At the time of the incident, deputies were demonstrating what to do when “confronted with a bad guy.”

“It was an isolated incident. There was no threat. There was no danger to any students afterward. It was an accident that happened,” Chapman said. “We’re dealing with it from that end.