TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Right before the single gunshot that struck Bradley Hulett inside a Tampa Police Officer’s home in December, the teen charged with manslaughter said, “What if it’s loaded?” according to the arrest report.
One of the four teen boys at the home told deputies he saw 15-year-old Christopher Bevan “holding the handgun and waving it around in his right hand” before hearing the shot.
When a Hillsborough County deputy responded to the home in the FishHawk Ranch community, he found Bevan “holding a towel on the victim’s head.”
According to the arrest report, one of the boys said, “Let’s go scare Bradley,” after removing the handgun out of the holster located on top of a small cabinet in the master bedroom.
One of the teens told deputies that before the shooting he heard Hulett say, “Oh, that’s real.”
The arrest report states that Bevan pulled the trigger “not knowing whether the firearm was loaded or unloaded while pointed in the direction of the victim.”
Hulett was pronounced dead at Brandon Regional Hospital. The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s office determined the manner of death was a homicide.
8 on Your Side has learned from the State Attorney’s office that Bevan will be prosecuted as an adult.
On Friday, State Attorney Andrew Warren announced the Tampa Police Officer would not be charged.
“Although this incident raises legitimate questions about the effectiveness of Florida’s gun storage laws, we are left to faithfully apply the law as currently written,” Warren said in a statement. “In this situation, there is no legal basis to charge the father for failing to safely store his gun.”
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister is joining the family of Bradley Hulett in calling for lawmakers to amend the state’s gun safety storage law.
“If there’s language in the safe storage bill that prohibits individuals and irresponsible gun owners from being held accountable, lets change it,” Sheriff Chronister told 8 On Your Side.
The State Attorney’s Office did not take the TPD officer’s training into account in the decision to not file charges, but Chronister said: “as law enforcement officers we are held to an even greater standard when it comes to properly storing our firearms.”
Tampa police tell 8 on Your Side they are conducting an internal affairs investigation now that the criminal investigation is over. A TPD representative said the officer will be required to answer questions and Chief Brian Dugan will share the outcome first with the Hulett family.
“I believe that the gun owner who failed to properly store his firearm that evening is even more responsible than an inquisitive teenager,” Chronister said.
Brad Hulett, Bradley’s father, said Friday his family plans to fight for changes to the safe storage law.
“Absolutely,” he said, “I think that will be the next big thing that we do in Bradley’s honor.”
According to the state’s investigation, the gun was not in a safe, nor fitted with a trigger lock. There was a single round in the chamber and no magazine in the gun. The officer’s son unlocked the door to his father’s bedroom with a paperclip.
8 On Your Side asked Sheriff Chronister if he believes justice has been served in this case.
“That’s a tough one,” he said. “I hope one day that there will be a resolution for everyone involved in this incident. Today is not that day.”
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