Ex-LAPD Cap Blames Lax Training in BART Shooting

Yesterday, ex-LA Police Department Captain Greg Meyer testified at the murder trial of BART Security Officer Johannes Mehserle, accused of shooting Oscar Grant. mercurynews.com reports that “Meyer, who now works as a police tactics consultant, said Bay Area Rapid Transit had ‘some deficiencies’ in their stun gun training, including not putting officers in scenarios that would increase their stress. ‘Was the training provided to Mr. Mehserle adequate to prevent weapon confusion’” defense attorney Michael Rains asked. ‘No,’ Meyer said.” Clearly. Meyer also revealed that this “confusion” has been an issue for other officers before. Six times, in fact . . .

Meyer also put together a chart listing six other cases where officers claim they mistakenly used their handgun instead of their stun gun. In all six, the officers used their dominant hand, no matter where the stun gun was positioned on the belt, and each fired one shot. Meyer said officers are usually trained to fire two to three rounds if they feel they encounter a serious threat.

So the fact that Mehserle didn’t shoot Grant more than once is part of his defense. Sad, but true. More importantly, shouldn’t there be some kind of non-training (i.e. practical) method of preventing this “confusion”?

In fact, there is. And there was. But, as sfgate.com reported way back in February, Mehserle didn’t go there.

A few hours before he fatally shot an unarmed train rider on Jan. 1, 2009, former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle decided he wanted a Taser. So he called up a fellow officer and borrowed one.

He did not, however, adjust the holster that came with it – something that all BART officers were expected to do to make sure their Taser was in the position that best suited them. That would have demanded up to 15 minutes of work with an Allen wrench and a Phillips-head screwdriver.

Instead, Mehserle wore the holster in a way that required him to draw the Taser with his right hand – his gun hand.

But there are strong indications Mehserle was accustomed to a left-handed draw for a Taser. A source familiar with his training said that’s the way he preferred to wear it. And that was how he wore the device 17 days earlier, when he pulled his Taser on two armed-robbery suspects in San Leandro, records show.

As TTAG has pointed out previously, when it comes to gun safety, one bad thing leads to another. As always, the devil’s in the details.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

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