Former officer avoids felony in police academy shooting

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A former Maine corrections officer has avoided a felony conviction stemming from an incident in which a fellow trainee was shot inside a pickup truck.

The Kennebec Journal reports 26-year-old Matthew Benger withdrew his guilty plea Thursday to a felony count of reckless conduct with a firearm. Benger instead pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

Last year, Benger was placed on deferred disposition for a year and allowed to withdraw his plea if he met certain conditions.

The 2017 incident happened when Benger and two fellow trainees were in a pickup truck in a Vassalboro police academy parking lot.

Benger was handling a gun owned by another trainee when it fired, striking Matthew Morrison in the knee.

Benger paid $15,000 in restitution while completing community service and a gun safety course.

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