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Gun-Mounted Flashlight Blamed For Fatal Police Shot

Gun-Mounted Flashlight Blamed For Fatal Police Shot

Barrett REC7 (M468) Replica Rifle - ACOG Reflex Sight and Tactical Flashlight attached, equipment tryout [Flikr | User: ラスト・ソーローズ]

Dallas Morning News via YellowBrix

November 19, 2010

PLANO, TX – A Plano narcotics sergeant intended to activate a flashlight affixed to his service weapon when he accidentally pulled the trigger, fatally shooting a drug suspect in a Far North Dallas parking lot last month, the officer told investigators.

“I never intended to fire my weapon,” the sergeant said in a statement to Dallas police detectives following the Oct. 13 shooting of suspected drug dealer Michael Anthony Alcala, 25. “I never intended to have my finger on the trigger. I was only attempting to operate the flashlight mechanism.”

The sergeant’s written statement was among more than 200 pages of documents released to The Dallas Morning News in response to a Public Information Act request. The documents pertain to the Dallas police criminal investigation of the shooting.

A Collin County grand jury that was considering manslaughter charges took no action in the case against the sergeant earlier this month. The officer, who remains on administrative leave, is not being identified because he works undercover.

Attorney Bob Gorsky is representing the Plano officer.

“The incident is currently under administrative review by the Plano Police Department,” Gorsky said in an e-mail. “We believe that upon completion of its investigation the police department will agree with the findings of the criminal investigation that this was an accidental discharge.”

An attorney for the Alcala family could not be reached for comment.

The sergeant specifically blamed the placement of a light switch under the trigger guard on his .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol. He said he had in the past carried a “Surefire brand X200 flashlight with pressure switches on each side of the grip of the gun; however this summer the Plano Police Department issued me a Surefire brand X300 flashlight with the pressure switch under the trigger guard and no pressure switch on the grip.”

“This was the only light I was allowed to have affixed to my weapon,” the officer said. “I was attempting to squeeze the light mechanism when my weapon fired and the suspect fell to the ground.”

A call to Surefire was not returned late Thursday. The company website describes it as having “the world’s finest illumination tools and tactical products.”

Officer Rick McDonald, a Plano police spokesman, said the department does not believe there is a problem with the flashlight in question or the way it is activated.

“We have researched them thoroughly,” McDonald said. “Right now, we are standing by these lights.”

The X300 flashlights will be issued to patrol officers soon, McDonald said. Plano officers in the narcotics, intelligence and canine divisions have been using the X200 model or other pistol lights for years.

The patrol officers won’t be given the new lights until they go through training at the gun range. They won’t be issued until next year, and the lights aren’t mandatory, McDonald said.

McDonald said officers should attend training when they receive the new lights. It is unclear whether the officer in the shooting was put through any training when he received the new light.

The newer models have a brighter light and can illuminate a larger area. Most officers who use them leave them on the handguns all the time, McDonald said.

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  • Annual_line_inspection_035_max50

    Bart3054

    over 3 years ago

    18 Comments

    There is no physiological evidence to show that a tail switch on the side of the frame is more or less likely to lead to a UD (unintentional discharge) than one directly under the trigger guard. The arguement to the opposite is more plausible based on the way the two muscles responsible for flexion of the digits and the wrist conect via tendons to the various points on the fingers. What we do know is that TRAINING must accompany any piece of equipment.

  • Badge_max50

    AnchAK

    over 3 years ago

    152 Comments

    Light switch under the trigger on the trigger guard? Design flaw if I ever saw one.

    An incident like this one could happen to any one of us, aywhere. I feel bad for the Plano officer. Train, train and train some more. Train with what your using until it becomes muscle memory.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    kadan

    over 3 years ago

    626 Comments

    If anyone should be blamed it should be surefire -- how stupid to put a switch under a trigger guard, this was an accident waiting to happen. My heart goes out to the LA officer.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    bikecop45

    over 3 years ago

    206 Comments

    What the heck is going on...why show an LA officer and different weapon type, rather than a Plano PD officer and weapon which doesn't match that in the story line.

  • Me_last_wk_max50

    delano388

    over 3 years ago

    4318 Comments

    Tragic mistake

  • 1979_max50

    Robocop33

    over 3 years ago

    14600 Comments

    Training. A tragic mistake but it was a mistake and this Officer will have to live with his actions and that is punishment enough in itself. Now we never had technology like this when I was active and it is great to have but we do not need to become complacent. I do not carry any type of attachment on my semi-auto as it does become bulky and they do not make a grip activated laser sight for that model so I go old school and actually know how to point and shoot and still hit my target.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    bluebrother

    over 3 years ago

    768 Comments

    Look past the graffiti, the parades of partisanship, the howling of "how did, why did, who did, and etc;" to the ultimate costs in this "AD". Not to point fingers, but does not the department train their people when there is a change in equipment? What has happened to the "old school of weapon and equipment transitional training?" This officer will have to live with this, the relatives of the dope pusher will miss him sometimes.

  • American_flag_eagle_max50

    NewYork911

    over 3 years ago

    1672 Comments

    This is a sad situation for all involved. I'm a little confused by the picture used to illustrate this article. The weapond involved was a pistol, not an M4 and I'm sure that LA SWAT would not like their patch associated with this story.

  • Hg_max50

    2Greazy

    over 3 years ago

    170 Comments

    Ive used this light for two years and have never had a problem. The pressure switch is just in front of my EXTENDED INDEX FINGER....again.... EXTENDED. Im certainly not saying it was intentional. However blaming a flash light for lack of trigger finger awareness is kinda lame. Hope it turns out good for him though.

  • Pug_max600_max50

    DALLASCRANE

    over 3 years ago

    19386 Comments

    Collin County will be getting out the checkbook to settle with Alcala's family.

  • Herosonpatrol_max50

    BeachAngel

    over 3 years ago

    5656 Comments

    Not good

  • Grad_08_044_max50

    depgomez

    over 3 years ago

    692 Comments

    Oh Boy

  • Img00015-20101105-1530_max50

    thev8man

    over 3 years ago

    1830 Comments

    WOw!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    nitesi

    over 3 years ago

    136 Comments

    Thankfully the grand jury did not see that the officer was wrong in the shooting. I pray that he can overcome the mistake. But at least it will save on court costs and jail expenses.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    My thoughts are with the officer in mention. I think having the activitation switch for the light be underneath the trigger guard is a poor idea. just like having the taser positioned on the same side of the duty belt as the firearm. Yes, it may work the way it is suposed to but there is wiggle room for error and misuse.

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