TAMPA — The teenager charged in the shooting death of 15-year-old Bradley Hulett will be prosecuted as an adult.
Christopher Bevan, 15, was arrested Friday and charged with manslaughter with a firearm, 77 days after the Dec. 13 shooting. On Monday, a spokeswoman for Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren confirmed Bevan will be prosecuted as an adult.
The charge is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Bevan mistakenly believed the handgun found in the locked master bedroom of a Tampa police officer on Dec. 13 was not loaded and did not mean to shoot Hulett, but he still committed a crime, according to statement released by Warren’s office on Friday announcing the decision to charge the the teen.
“In this matter, the shooter pointed the gun in the direction of the victim and pulled the trigger without knowing — and therefore under the law, without caring — whether it was loaded,” the statement said. “This conduct sufficiently demonstrates a reckless disregard for human life.”
Bevan made his first appearance in juvenile court on Saturday. He was being represented by Assistant Public Defender Mike Peacock.
Hillsborough Public Defender Julianne Holt did not immediately respond Monday to a message seeking comment.
Bradley and the three teens — all sophomores at Newsome High School — went to the home after school. The Tampa officer was on duty at the time and the gun the teens found was not a service weapon, authorities have said.
The officer’s son, who lives at the house, went into his father’s master bedroom to use the bathroom because another teen was using the only other bathroom in the house. The door to the master bedroom was locked, and the officer’s son used a paperclip to unlock it.
When the teen finished using the bathroom and left the master bedroom, he did not re-lock the door behind him. Shortly after, he went back into the master bedroom with two of the other boys in search of a plunger to fix a clog in the other bathroom. While in the bedroom, the boys noticed the father’s gun in a safety holster sitting on a small table.
There was no magazine in the gun but there was a single round in the chamber. The officer’s son mistakenly believed the gun was unloaded and engaged the safety release to remove it from the holster. He then took the gun out of his father’s room and, along with the two other boys, returned to his bedroom, where Hulett was sitting at a desk playing video games.
While all four teens were in the boy’s bedroom, Bevan took the gun from the officer’s son. Mistakenly believing the gun to be unloaded, Bevan pulled the trigger, firing the single round and striking Hulett in the back of the head.
The other three boys immediately called 911 and tried to provide medical assistance to their friend. All three of the teens retained attorneys. Only one gave a statement to investigators shortly after the shooting. The officer’s son spoke to investigators after receiving a subpoena. Bevan remained silent.
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“The evidence clearly establishes that this was a tragic accident where all the boys mistakenly believed that the gun was not loaded,” the Friday statement from Warren’s office said. “The lack of intent or malice, however, does not foreclose that a crime occurred. In Florida, an unintentional killing resulting from the reckless disregard for the safety of another person constitutes manslaughter."
The Tampa police officer who owns the gun and the home in Lithia’s FishHawk Ranch community will not be charged because there was insufficient evidence to show he violated the state’s safe storage law, the statement said. Authorities have not released his or his son’s names.