Reporting Bill Shields
NORTON (CBS) – The family of a woman shot by a state trooper over the weekend is angry and wants answers.
Sixty-six-year-old Cheryl Blair of Norton is still in Rhode Island Hospital, recovering from a gunshot wound to her hip.
The retired teacher was out walking her dogs Saturday around sunset when an off-duty state trooper hunting deer fired at her, thinking the tail of one of her dogs was the tail of a deer.
WBZ-TV’s Bill Shields reports
The trooper, John Bergeron, apologized to Blair and called for help.
“She was shot (in the) left hip, it shattered her hip. She’s in a lot of pain, but she’s alive,” Blair’s son Nicholas told WBZ-TV. ”She’s a tough woman.”
The State Police determined the shooting was accidental.
The trooper has a permit for the black powder rifle, and was out within the deer hunting season, which ended Saturday night.
At this point, he will not face any charges or disciplinary action.
But the victim’s husband Jim Blair, a hunter himself, told WBZ-TV Monday there should be consequences.
He called the shooting an irresponsible accident that could have long-term problems for his wife.
“I can forgive an accident,” says Jim Blair. “But he said he was shooting at a tail. That was the tail of my dog, not a deer. You have to have target recognition, and he failed to do that. And I cannot forgive that.”
The family is baffled at how the trooper could have made such a mistake.
James says, “I want to make it clear, I understand the situation, I don’t accept the situation, I don’t forgive the situation.”
Several police agencies are still looking into what happened.
“My mother doesn’t look like a deer. My mother was wearing a bright blue coat. Could you mistake a dog for a deer? Sure, maybe, but not my mother,” Nicholas Blair said.
Bergeron was in the final minutes of the deer hunting season, and was hunting in an area he knows well. He lives just down the street from the Blair house.
But Jim Blair says Bergeron made a near-fatal mistake. “Now my wife has a musket ball fragment in her hip and will likely live the rest of her life in pain,” he says.
WBZ-TV’s Bill Shields contributed to this report.