I know this has been covered ad nauseum, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Farago’s “Gabe Suarez is Insane” story. As someone who had “Keep your finger off that damn trigger!”pounded into my skull repeatedly and forcefully by my firearms instructor at the Sheriff’s Office; keeping my finger on the trigger while covering someone would be like going against my religion . . .

There is just too much room for error. Way too many things that can go wrong. It’s bad enough having a negligent discharge (I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as an accidental discharge). It’s worse if it happens because your finger was on the trigger. But we’re not talking about this happening at the range; we’re talking about holding a gun on someone while waiting for the cavalry to arrive.

A negligent discharge in this situation means someone either gets horribly wounded or dies. Instead of explaining in court how you responsibly stopped an assailant and held him at gunpoint until help arrived; you’ll have to defend yourself against a manslaughter or homicide charge.

I came upon this article in the Washington Post after hearing about it in the local news.

Nearly five years after a Fairfax County police officer shot and killed an unarmed man outside his townhouse, the county has agreed to pay the man’s parents $2 million to settle their lawsuit against the officer.

The death of Salvatore J. Culosi, a 37-year-old optometrist . . . suspected of the nonviolent crime of taking bets on football games. Fairfax police were aware that Culosi had no criminal history or connection to weapons.

The SWAT officer who fired the shot, Deval V. Bullock, said his .45-caliber pistol accidentally discharged Jan. 24, 2006, after his vehicle door bumped his left side as he aimed at Culosi with his right hand, causing a sympathetic reflex response.

I’m no tactical expert, but it seems to me that all of this could have been avoided had his finger been indexed on the frame like every law enforcement officer is trained to do.

Officer Bullock (a trained SWAT operator) had his weapon trained on Culosi, who apparently posed no immediate threat. He had his finger on the trigger, which was not department policy. One little bump from a car door caused a muscle reaction. A mishap that made him pull the trigger and accidentally kill a man.

This tragedy has destroyed a family, affected Officer Bullock’s career forever and has done God knows what to his psyche. If this doesn’t prove Farago’s point, then I don’t know what does.

11 Responses to This is Why You Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger

  1. Ayoob calls this an “ideomotor reflex.” Proponents of “finger on trigger” should note that this appears to be an inescapable physiological fact, not something that can be overcome with attitude, training, etc.

    • I’m absolutely incredulous. A cop shoots an unarmed man and makes up a bullshit story to cover his ass? That NEVER happens.

    • The truly tragic final analysis provides that it is still ‘officer’ Bullock and not ‘convict’ Bullock.

  2. “…learn to keep the muzzle of your weapon pointed in a safe direction until you not only have decided to shoot something, but you are actually in the process of shooting that something.” — Bill Rogers, Be Fast, Be Accurate, Be the Best

  3. I can’t help but wonder WHY someone would possibly think that “finger on the trigger” is anywhere near OK.

    NRA rule #1: “ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.”

    NRA rule #2: “ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.”

    Let’s combine those two with a little lick of common sense and create a master gun safety rule – “Never point a gun at something you’re not completely prepared to kill or destroy, and never place your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to kill or destroy it.”

    Simple, easy. Done.

  4. Mr. Finn, could you send me an email and then I will send you a number to contact me. I would like to speak to you.

  5. Allot of people are not seeing the big picture, He was a Fairfax Cop, not P.G. NOT D.C., or Philly or Detroit or any inner city. He has no experience, They have more murders in D.C. and shootings in a year then the history of FX. Co. He could be there best trained officer, so what? He looked the part, told his neighbors and friends he was the real deal, but in reality he had never been tested once. He was a 17 year rookie…period. He probably never saw a suspect with a gun in his entire career. If you would interview an inner city cop, on a busy beat, in patrol, on 3-11 or midnight shift, they would be locking someone up with a gun or knife or whatever weekly. And without a negligent discharge. This guy was an untested but well trained swat officer, In an area with little crime, he was on a jump out on a bookie warrant. In the city, the detective calls one marked unit for a turn up on a homicide warrant. But I bet he looks good in his BDU’S. Training without experience is what he had, and he proved it. Know your target and whats beyond, finger outside the trigger guard and on the slide. Finger only on trigger when decision has been made to fire to stop the threat. On my beat a 9 year old would hood wink this bozo right out of his gun and cruiser. I feel so sorry for the people of Fx. Plus in the city, he would now be in jail. But people in the suburbs do not set the liquar store on fire. So this bozo is now a sgt, carrying a gun he has no business carrying anymore. What a joke if it was not for real. Hopefully I will get to meet him, maybe he can educate me with some of his experiences as a police officer in the suburbs. Oh thats right, he will probably be at there academy teaching firearms training. Hopefully no ones kid gets nervous on a traffic stop in Fx, They might not survive the encounter with this well trained dept. Couldn’t get away with this in a city, ask a cop in any city… what a true professional this guy is. And all our jobs just got harder, but not in Fx.

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