“Given the high number of gun-toting officers on the [San Francisco police] force — more than 2,000 — and the number of their daily interactions with firearms, an accidental discharge is rare,” sfgate.com reports. “Almost statistically nonexistent.” In other words, there’ve been 29 “unplanned shootings” since 2005. Accidental. Unplanned. The correct term is “negligent.” And that applies to 100 percent of the examples (including the ones we don’t know about). All of which indicate a systemic failure of the San Fran po-po’s firearms training and handling. For example . . .
During an instructional class for crime scene investigators inside San Francisco’s Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St., a veteran inspector began a discussion on single action vs. double action firearms when — kaboom! — his gun fired a bullet straight through a cubicle wall.
No one was hurt, but a person familiar with the Aug. 8 incident inside Room 442 later joked, “The investigators got a crime scene to investigate all right — their office.”
OK, so why aren’t I laughing? Maybe it’s because I’m wondering to whom the “veteran inspector” was lecturing. If he was demonstrating the principles of SA/DA to fellow law enforcement officers, why didn’t they know the difference already? If he was pontificating to non-LEO personnel, why in the world would he draw a loaded gun to illustrate his points?
The anecdote indicates lax gun handling habits (literally) within the department. One surmises that the remaining 28 negligent discharges reveal similar firearms training and handling flaws. Let’s put this next one under “The San Francisco Police Department’s Funniest Negligent Discharges” . . .
When they happen, [NDs] can be totally embarrassing. Aside from the collegial ribbing that comes after shot-gunning an innocent file cabinet (more on that later), a bad discharge can also stain an officer’s personnel file. One law enforcement authority told us the blunder goes under-reported. Our source theorized, “Would you call your commander to tell him you just shot off a round at home while cleaning your gun?”
Well, in San Francisco, at least three officers did.
According to the department reports, one officer fired his semi-automatic rifle into the cement floor of his Sunset District garage; another Sunset-dwelling cop blew out his living room window and destroyed the blinds.
The third, who lives in Richmond, was cleaning his personal .45-caliber handgun the evening of Jan. 8, 2008, when, the report reads, “he retracted the slide and accidentally discharged one round, which traveled through a window and into a neighbor’s backyard.”
. . .
On May 16, 2007 — a day that may live in misfire infamy — two unintended police shootings took place in San Francisco. At about 7 p.m. a homicide inspector at the Hall of Justice was preparing to book a sawed-off shotgun into evidence. As he attempted to “clear the weapon” — or, remove the shells — he shot the base of a filing cabinet.
A few hours later across town at the Bayview Station, a field training officer with his new recruit in tow ended his shift. The field training officer, clearing his shotgun, thought there were five rounds to remove.
“Believing the weapon to be empty,” the report reads, “the field training officer attempted to lock back the slide; his hand slipped, and the sixth round discharged skyward.”
. . .
On Aug. 18, 2008, at 4:30 p.m., cops from the Ingleside Station were sneaking up on suspected gang house to serve a search warrant when a veteran officer carrying a shotgun — well, we’ll let the report take it from here:
“The officer ran across an uneven surface when his knee buckled, causing the officer to fall forward. Not wanting to drop his weapon, the officer clenched both hands on the shotgun and accidentally pulled the trigger with his right hand. One round was discharged into the ground, about six feet ahead of the officer.”
A SWAT team entered a smoke-filled house on New Year’s Day 2007 to capture a parole violator believed to be armed and dangerous. Wearing a gas mask and tasked with conducting a search of the rear bedroom, one officer swung his M-4 rifle to his rear side in order to use both his hands to open closet doors and sift through dresser drawers. “It is suspected that the officer’s rifle snagged upon his equipment with sufficient force to disengage the safety and discharge his weapon,” the report reads.
. . .
“A patrol officer assigned to the Mission District was sitting alone in the station lunchroom,” the report from Aug. 12, 2008, begins. “At this time he noticed some ‘wear and tear’ on his department-issued firearm. The officer drew his weapon, locked the slide back and removed the magazine. He inspected the weapon and determined that any damage was cosmetic. He then reloaded the weapon and — intending to de-cock the firearm — pulled the trigger, discharging one round into the floor.”
One wonders how many of these SF police officers were dismissed from the force, or had their access to firearms removed. I’m thinking . . . none. I’d also like to know how the Powers That Be modified their firearms training and protocol to prevent repeat NDs. You know; if they did.
Meanwhile, let it be known that the police share every gun owner’s obligation not to shoot innocent bystanders, fellow gun owners or themselves. Only more so.