Police: Man shoots wife in legs to prove point
By ERIC FRANCIS
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A Windsor man who police said shot his wife through both her legs while trying to prove to her that a gun wasn’t loaded was in court Monday facing a misdemeanor negligence charge in connection with the weekend incident.
Matthew Coleman, 37, pleaded innocent to a single count of simple assault with a deadly weapon, a rarely used charge that Windsor County Deputy State’s Attorney David Cahill said reflected the prosecution’s feeling that Coleman’s actions early Saturday morning at the couple’s Union Street apartment fell short of the “extreme indifference to human life” standard that is required to support an aggravated assault charge.
“Simply put, the state has charged Mr. Coleman for making a tragic, easily avoidable mistake,” Cahill said Monday.
Windsor’s emergency services were called to the apartment shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday. According to a police report, they found Dorthea Coleman in her bed with a pair of through-and-through injuries to both her legs right behind her knees from a single 9mm bullet that police later found lodged in the bed frame.
Windsor Police Officer Emmit Green said that although Dorthea Coleman was “in severe pain” she was conscious and alert and able to give police an account of events. Green said her version of the shooting was consistent with what Coleman and other family members who were in the house that evening said happened.
Coleman told authorities he and his friend Brent Baker had been hanging out and drinking beer at the residence until Baker went to sleep in the living room. Baker had brought a gun to show Coleman, the police report said, and as Coleman was going to bed, he noticed it was on a table in the living room. So Coleman then brought it into the bedroom for safekeeping because there were children in the house, Coleman told police.
When his wife asked whether the gun was loaded, Coleman said it wasn’t and in order to show her he racked the slide back while pulling the trigger, according to an affidavit filed with the court. At that point the gun went off and Dorthea Coleman started screaming, according to the witness accounts.
After the shooting, Coleman, Baker — who awoke with the commotion — and the couple’s eldest daughter worked to control the bleeding while an ambulance was responding to the scene, the police report said.