NJ cop charged after 8-year-old daughter dies from gun shot
STRATFORD — A borough police officer is facing criminal charges after his 8-year-old daughter died from a gunshot wound at the family home on New Year's Eve.
But he has not been charged with his daughter's death.
Kenneth Righter, 46, has been suspended from the force without pay pending a trial on charges of leaving his loaded personal .357 revolver unsecured on a shelf.
Authorities did not say how little Sailor Righter got shot, but her mother had suggested in Facebook posts that it was suicide and that the 8-year-old "became severely depressed after Christmas." And the family had requested memorial donations in Sailor’s name for the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide.
Sailor’s brother called 911 about 1:50 p.m. to report that his sister was unresponsive and not breathing, according to a recording of the call obtained by New Jersey 101.5 under the state’s Open Public Records Act.
Righter was pronounced dead 2:15 p.m. at Kennedy Hospital.
Days after the death, prosecutors released a statement saying they were investigating the death, but provided very few details other than that "only family members were present at the time of the incident, ruling out the involvement of unknown individuals."
The announcement Friday of the charges against Righter was the first time the Camden County Prosecutor's Office has said that the girl was shot. In the 911 call, the brother said nothing about weapons.
Sailor was one of the three children in the home. Her brothers are 14 and 17, prosecutors said.
Righter is charged with three counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child as a result of his unsecured weapon, as well as a disorderly persons offense of improperly storing a firearm if minors have access.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.