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Officer suspended for firing into desk

A city police officer has received a five-day suspension after accidentally firing his weapon inside police headquarters during an impromptu training exercise.

Tarpon Springs police Chief Mark LeCouris issued a one-page memo Wednesday ordering Sgt. Michael Trill's suspension for five days without pay. LeCouris wrote that Trill, 34, violated Police Department safety rules when his .40-caliber Glock pistol accidentally discharged a bullet into a desk on Oct. 21.

The incident occurred about 4 p.m. that day. Trill was trying to show a rookie police officer how to handle her weapon safely. An eight-year veteran of the department responsible for training officers, Trill was teaching Officer Michelle R. Hayward how to conduct an armed search of a building. The two officers used unloaded guns to practice various weapons and search techniques inside police headquarters at 444 Huey Ave., according to police records.

After about an hour of practicing different types of armed entries, Trill reloaded his pistol, leaving one bullet in the gun's chamber. When he next tried to show Hayward, 24, another technique he accidentally pulled the loaded gun's trigger, firing a round, according to police records.

Though the police building was occupied at the time no one was injured in the accidental shooting.

Police Capt. Ronnie Holt called the armed training exercise inside police headquarters a "serious error in judgment which could have been disastrous," in a memo the following day. Trill is not a certified firearms instructor and is not authorized to use a firearm during such training, Holt wrote.

"In reviewing the details of this incident, I find that the training was unsafe from the moment it started," Holt wrote in an Oct. 22 memo.

Although Holt recommended a more severe penalty, LeCouris ordered a lesser punishment, adding 20 points to Trill's disciplinary record.

Under departmental rules an officer who accumulates 60 disciplinary points in a two-year period can be fired.

LeCouris declined Friday to comment on the incident.

Trill admitted his mistake in a memo describing what happened that day.

"The accidental discharge was caused by my failing to re-empty the gun," Trill wrote. "I can assure you that this is an embarrassing incident for which I am extremely apologetic."

Trill will begin serving his suspension for last week's incident starting Nov. 17.

_ Candace Rondeaux can be reached at 445-4181 or