Ex-Centerville police officer sentenced to prison in shooting death of Hamilton child

Prosecutors say toddler found the gun unsecured on a window sill in their home.

Ex-Centerville police officer Benjamin Bishop was sentenced to seven years in prison Monday in Butler County Common Pleas Court for the death of a 3-year-old boy who used Bishop’s loaded, unsecured gun to shoot himself last March at a Hamilton home.

Bishop, 27, was indicted on the charges in June for reckless homicide and child endangering in addition to involuntary manslaughter for the March 30 shooting that happened when the toddler, Jared Green Jr., picked up the firearm left on a window sill and discharged it. The boy was hit in the head and died.

Emergency crews responded at about 7 p.m. that evening to the 900 block of Park Avenue and found the child with a gunshot wound on the left side of his head.

Bishop pleaded guilty in September to involuntary manslaughter. In exchange for the plea, the other two charges were merged.

In front of a packed courtroom, Bishop apologized to the boy’s family.

“I would like to officially take this opportunity to officially and in as sincere a way as possible apologize to the Green and Rodriguez families for the actions that I have caused and all the pain and suffering that I have caused them,” he said.

Bishop was the boyfriend of the toddler’s mom, Hailey Rodriguez, and the father of their infant child.

Bishop faced a maximum of 11 years in prison, but incarceration is not mandatory on the charge.

Judge Noah Powers II acknowledged Bishop had no criminal record prior the the March incident, was an Eagle Scout and served as a police officer. But the training also swayed Powers in his decision not to sentence Bishop to community control or a community-based incarceration.

Powers said Bishop showed remorse, and while he does not believe his actions were intentional, they were “reckless.”

“For any responsible gun owner to do something like this is unfathomable,” Powers said, then pointed the additional training Bishop received as a police officer about safe handling of guns.

The judge said Bishop not only left out a loaded gun with a round in the chamber that the child picked up, but he also had another unsecured gun in the night stand beside the bed.

Jared Green, the child’s father, told the judge when “Little Jared” was born it was his goal to be a great father to him.

“On March 30, 2023, that goal was stripped from me due to the carelessness and negligence of Mr. Ben Bishop. Everything that I had planned for him from playing football and basketball to growing up around family and friends is gone,” Green said.

Michelle Rodriguez, young Jared’s grandmother, spoke telling the judge Bishop went into “self-preservation mode” after the shooting, calling her daughter upstairs and then watching as she carried her mortally wounded son down the steps while seven months pregnant.

“Ben did nothing to help,” Michelle Rodriguez said. “This man stole Hailey’s life away from her, stole her joy,” the grandmother said.

Hailey Rodriguez sobbed and had to sit down while addressing the judge about her son.

“He was only three years old, but he laughed hard loved hard and played hard,” the mother told the judge before asking that Bishop receive the maximum sentence.

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