By Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
A former firearms instructor who accidentally shot and seriously injured an 82-year-old woman inside an Oak Harbor restaurant a year ago was sentenced to 12 months in jail.
David A. Goodman, 58, pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court Wednesday to assault in the third degree, with an aggravating factor.
Both Goodman, a Coupeville resident, and the victim, Barbara Bland, spoke at the sentencing hearing.
Bland pointed to where the bullet had entered her chest and exited her back after Goodman inadvertently fired a handgun from another table at Frasers Gourmet Hideaway. She said she was in a wheelchair after part of her legs were amputated because of blood clots and an infection related to the injury from the Jan. 10, 2020 shooting.
“I wanted to tell Mr. Goodman,” she said, “that I think it was unnecessary to carry a gun loaded with 15 hollow point bullets in the community under peaceful circumstances.”
Goodman wept as he spoke, apologizing to Bland and the court.
“There are no words to capture, no words to express,” he said, “the depth of anguish and torment I feel.”
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks explained that the aggravating factor was because the shooting caused a level of injury which exceeded that necessary to meet the elements of the crime. The factor allowed Goodman to be sentenced to an exceptional sentence beyond the standard range of one to three months.
Under the terms of a plea bargain, a gross misdemeanor charge and a firearms enhancement were dismissed.
The prosecution and defense agreed to recommend a 12-month exceptional sentence. Judge Christon Skinner agreed and imposed the sentence.
Banks noted that the assault was unusual in that Goodman did not intend to hurt anyone, but that it was “an extremely serious and life-threatening crime.”
Brent Thompson, Goodman’s attorney, said his client was a firearms instructor at a local club, as well as a volunteer firearms instructor for the NJROTC at Oak Harbor High School. He stressed how remorseful Goodman is and that his main concern was the victim’s health.
The attorney said Goodman suffered from traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder, which he argued should mitigate the sentence.
He said Goodman suffered a brain injury as a teenager when he was struck by a car. Despite this, he had a successful career in the Navy, retiring as a lieutenant commander.
The attorney said Goodman had more than one combat tour and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder as a result.
In 2013, Goodman and his family were in a car that was struck by a drunk driver and he suffered another, aggravating brain injury. Prior to that, he had a successful career at the Edward Jones investment firm, but wasn’t able to continue after the accident.
Thompson said a forensic neurology expert evaluated Goodman in November and concluded that a frontal brain injury and PTSD may have played a role in the behavior that caused the crime.
The expert found that Goodman may have forgotten he had placed the loaded gun on his chair when he got up at the restaurant and then returned, either sitting on the gun or mishandling it.
In sentencing Goodman, Skinner said if Goodman suffered from those issues, “it may have not been the best thing to carry a gun under these circumstances.”
The bullet that exited Bland’s body whizzed by a table of women and through a window.
One of the women said the bullet would have struck her if she had been a little taller.
As part of the plea bargain, Banks said, Goodman has to admit that his negligence put other diners at risk. He also agreed to hand over his handgun to the Oak Harbor police.
Since he’s been convicted of a felony, Goodman will no longer be able to own, use or possess firearms unless the right is restored by a court.
Bland filed a lawsuit for personal injuries against Goodman in November.
This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sister publication to The Herald.
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