A police chief in western Massachusetts pleaded not guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 8-year-old Christopher Bizilj, an Ashford boy who accidentally shot himself with an Uzi at a gun show.
Pelham Chief Edward Fleury owns COPS Firearms & Training, which promoted the October show where Bizilj shot himself in the head.
Fleury's lawyer, David Kuzmeski, also entered not guilty pleas Monday to four counts of furnishing a machine gun to a person under 18. Fleury did not appear at the arraignment in Hampden Superior Court.
Fleury could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter and up to 10 years if convicted of furnishing the weapon to a minor.
"We're very disappointed that he's been indicted," Kuzmeski said after the arraignment. "We're optimistic with our defenses. Of course, everybody is just feeling terrible about this accident. Mr. Fleury's sympathies go out to the family."
The boy was killed Oct. 26 when he lost control of the 9mm micro submachine gun as it recoiled while he was firing at a pumpkin at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club. Christopher's father was 10 feet behind him and reaching for his camera when the child fired the weapon.
District Attorney William Bennett has said Fleury wrongly assured two men who brought the weapon to the club that it was legal for children to use under Massachusetts law.
Attorneys for Carl Giuffre of Hartford, and Domenico Spano of New Milford, who also were charged with involuntary manslaughter, entered not guilty pleas for their clients last week.
The club where the show was held entered a not guilty plea to the same charge Monday.
"We maintain our position that no one acting on behalf of the club furnished any weapon to the people in question," said Thomas Drechsler, the attorney for the Westfield Sportsman's Club. "There was no reckless, wanton conduct on the part of the club."
Pelham has appointed an acting police chief while Fleury remains on sick leave until Jan. 6.