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APD sergeant accidentally shoots fellow officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Incident occurred during search for suspects in building

An Albuquerque police sergeant is under investigation after she accidentally fired a bullet into the leg of a fellow officer Monday night as they searched for suspects, guns drawn, in a Southwest-area apartment building.

Sgt. Darcy McDermeit, a 17-year APD veteran, was helping to clear a building of possible suspects in response to a call about three or four people – possibly armed with rifles – atop a roof in the 3500 block of Central SW, near Old Coors, police said.

When officers arrived, they stopped a vehicle that was leaving the building and discovered an airsoft rifle – a replica gun that fires plastic projectiles. The accidental shooting happened when officers entered the building to search for other possible suspects, APD spokeswoman Tasia Martinez said.

Officers entered the building with their handguns in a “low-ready” position, which means officers have their guns drawn but pointed downward, Martinez said. APD-issued duty weapons do not have safeties; they are only either drawn or holstered.

During the search, police said McDermeit accidentally shot her weapon, and the bullet struck officer Scott Maher in the lower leg, police said. He has since been released from the hospital. Martinez did not know when Maher would be cleared to return to work.

The officer has worked for the department since November 2010.

Investigators are trying to determine how the shot was fired, including whether McDermeit’s finger was on the trigger or if she just bumped the weapon into something. Also under investigation is whether the bullet ricocheted before striking the officer.

In the meantime, McDermeit has been reassigned within the department until the investigation is over. APD’s Internal Affairs is handling the investigation, Martinez said.

There will not be a criminal investigation, a process that involves other local law enforcement agencies and the District Attorney’s Office, she said.