SINGAPORE: While serving as an auxiliary police officer, a man discharged a shotgun to cull crows without a safety officer present, causing multiple shotgun pellets to be lodged in the wall of a flat.
For one count of a rash act endangering personal safety, 23-year-old Eric Kow was jailed four weeks on Wednesday (Jul 29).
The safety officer who failed to be present, 27-year-old Joseph Goh Chin Peng, was fined S$2,500 for abetting the rash act.
The court heard that Kow was an auxiliary police officer with Certis CISCO, holding the rank of lance corporal. Goh was a part-time auxiliary police officer with Certis CISCO and was a corporal.
Certis CISCO had a contract with the then-Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) to conduct crow culling by shooting at crows with a shotgun.
This was to be carried out at areas of complaint provided by AVA, and teams of two men, each comprising a shooter and a safety officer, were deployed to do this.
On Feb 12 last year, Kow and Goh were assigned to a team to cull crows at various locations in Singapore, with Kow deployed as the shooter, armed with a Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon double barrel shotgun and a hundred ammunition cartridges containing 7.5 shot pellets.
Goh was deployed as his safety officer, and the two men were equipped with body-worn cameras and a crow culling danger sign.
The two men had previously been deployed many times for such work, with Kow acting as a shooter more than 120 times before and Goh deployed about 30 times as a safety officer.
At about 3.30pm at a location that was not revealed in court documents, the men spotted crows on a tree near a housing block.
They parked their vehicle and Goh remained seated in the vehicle while Kow alighted with the loaded shotgun, but left the body-worn camera behind.
Neither of the men deployed the warning sign or cordon as required, as they did not want to alert the crows. However, because they knew the camera was rolling, Kow verbally told Goh to take down the warning sign for show.
Goh continued waiting in the vehicle, even though he knew that he had to assist Kow as safety officer by looking out for the safety of the public and preventing people from walking by the shooting area.
He did this because he did not want to alert the crows, and this was his usual practice with Kow.
KOW SHOT AT CROWS WITHOUT MAKING CERTAIN CHECKS
Without checking if there were doors or windows open at any flats, and knowing that the line of fire was less than 150m from the block and his view of the flat behind was blocked, Kow shot once at two crows on a tree, killing them.
Goh alighted from the vehicle seconds after the shot was fired. He saw the two dead crows on the ground and a group of elderly women sitting at a table below the block.
Kow retrieved the dead crows and packed them into the vehicle before the pair left.
A resident was resting when the loud sound of the shot woke her. She later found multiple holes and metal pieces in the wall outside a flat and near the front door.
She called the police, who began investigations and sent the metal pieces for forensic examination. The shotgun Kow used was examined by the police's Force Armament Branch, which found that small birdshot pellets in general are unable to penetrate a human body deeply enough to cause direct fatality.
They would also not cause deep penetration wounds, and the shotgun with ammunition was non-lethal to humans at all distances.
While the probability of a shotgun birdshot pellet causing a fatal wound was assessed to be low, skin perforation would be expected if the gun was fired from a range of 23m.
On top of the rash act committed, both men breached multiple standard operating procedures. Certis CISCO compensated the flat resident for the damage caused, and Kow and Goh were fired in April last year.
For committing a rash act endangering human life, or abetting this offence, the men could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$2,500, or both.