Exclusive: Family speaks out about Gaming Commission Agent kille - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Exclusive: Family speaks out about Gaming Commission Agent killed in line of duty

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

In an exclusive interview, the family of State Gaming Commission special agent John Gorman, who was gunned down in the line of duty by a fellow officer, breaks their silence.

January 21 marks the one year anniversary of Gorman's tragic death.

His family has put the state on notice of pending civil action.

Near tears, Summer Gorman of Madison said on Tuesday, "It's hard to cope and John was not ready to die. He was so full of life and so passionate about life."

Thirty-six year old John Gorman, was called to Tunica County for a Gaming Commission simulated firearms training seminar.

The longtime certifying instructor was Special Agent Robert Sharp. 

According to the family attorney, on that cold January morning something went terribly wrong.

"SA Bob Sharp, after directing all participants to remove their weapons from the training exercise, chose to keep his live firearm on his side," said Gorman's sister, Jackson resident Julie Levanway.

"I want to know why, after hundreds and hundreds of training certifications he (Sharp) has done in his career, that on that day, he pulled a loaded weapon and pointed it at my brother and shot and killed him."

During the "no firearms" or dummy weapons  scenario,  NRA certified firearms instructor Robert Sharp shot fellow officer Gorman in the chest.
 "He (Sharp)  insisted that John role play again and  insisted that John be the aggressor and come for him, added Levanway. "And when he did, he (Sharp) pulled his service issued weapon that was loaded pointed it directly at my brother and shot him in the chest. " 

Agent Gorman's wife and Levanway said Sharp interjected himself into the training, violating the rules by wearing a loaded Glock,unlike Gorman who had removed his duty weapon.

Gorman recalled when someone from the Gaming Commission came to her office then took her downtown where she received news of her husbands death.

"My reaction was unimaginable. breathtaking, heart stabbing, traumatizing," said Summer Gorman. 

The MBI Investigative report indicates an Air Vac helicopter landed,  but  Agent Gorman lay wounded for nearly an hour, not airlifted to a trauma unit in Memphis. The family questions why this decision was made.

Attorney Hal Neilson said, "This failure to deliver MGC SA John Gorman to a nearby hospital was a contributing factor causing Gorman to die at the scene from the gunshot of MGC SA Sharp," said Attorney Hal Neilson. 

Nielson went on to say, on the day of the shooting, Summer Gorman, the spouse, was notified by the MGC Executive Director Allen Godfrey of the death of her husband. Godfrey would not provide details of the shooting at that initial meeting, and would never discuss the matter with Summer Gorman again, despite many requests.  

He says additionally and for the past year, the Mississippi Gaming Commission has chosen to treat this tragedy as a simple workman's compensation matter.

The MBI investigation concluded instructor Sharp  "accidentally, with extreme negligence" shot and killed Gorman, failed to follow required safety precautions," and further states the "deadly shooting incident was avoidable." 

As for the family, their lives have forever changed.

"This, in a million years, should have never happened the way it happened," said Summer Gorman. "It should have never happened to John, it should never happen to any family. but it happened only because he (Sharp) chose to disregard the protocol that was put in place."

This case was turned over to a Tunica County Grand Jury in 2015.  Agent Sharp was not indicted and did not face criminal charges. The family says he is no longer with the Mississippi State Gaming Commission. 

We contacted the Attorney General's office for a response about the Tort Claims notification. Late Tuesday evening the office released a statement saying: "The rules of the court would prohibit our comment on pending litigation," but did not receive a return call.  

The family attorney, Hal Neilson with Neilson Law Office in Oxford, said in a news release Tuesday:

"It is for these reasons that legal actions will be taken to not only attempt to obtain answers for the family, but also to hold responsible the Mississippi Gaming Commission for the death of John Gorman and for the total disregard for public safety of civilians and other trainees. At this time, the Tunica County Sheriff's Department is also being named for their irresponsible actions after the actual shooting."  

"The family is seeking any assistance from any person knowledgeable for the events surrounding this tragedy," added Neilson.

Full press release: Legal action in death of MS Gaming Commission agent killed in 2015.

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