Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Lt. Dave Hopper, Michigan State Police

 “An off-duty Michigan State Police trooper sustained serious injuries Saturday morning when his sidearm accidentally discharged as hundreds of people congregated on H-40 near Albert Street in preparation for the Rudyard Summerfest parade,” Michigan’s sooeveningnews.com reports. “The trooper had arrived at the event in his personal vehicle with his family and was exiting when the hammerless .357-caliber Smith and Wesson discharged. The bullet passed through the man’s upper leg and entered his calf where it remained lodged.” How that happened is a matter of conjecture. Who’s responsible seems obvious enough: the trooper. As the Afrikaners would say, ja – nir. Or, as Harry Truman would say, the buck doesn’t stop there . . .

Lt. Dave Hopper, commander of both the Sault and Newberry posts, confirmed the the injured trooper was assigned to the Sault Post.

“He was carrying a department-assigned weapon — per our orders — to always be armed,” said Hopper.

Well, that’s clear enough. The State Police order their troopers to carry whilst off-duty. So they have an obligation to both their officers and civilians to make sure that their off-duty police carry their concealed weapons responsibly. In this case, that didn’t happen. And so . . .

The Michigan State Police have announced an immediate and comprehensive review of off-duty carrying procedure, including weapon selection, handling and training. They’ll be working under the direction of the Director of the Michigan State Police.

Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue says she will do everything in her power to ensure there won’t be another concealed carry negligent discharge (ND); to prevent unintentional injury to the Troopers and the general public.

OK, I made that up. None of the cops commenting on this ND were prepared to take any responsibility for what happened. In fact, Sheriff Robert Savoie and Lt. Hopper reckon there’s nothing to see here folks. Move along.

Chippewa County Sheriff Robert Savoie [above], preparing to participate in the annual parade, said he watched the man step from his vehicle and was momentarily distracted when he heard what sounded like a firecracker.

The injured man hopped away from the vehicle clutching his leg prompting an immediate response by a large contingent of emergency personnel who had gathered to participate in the parade.

“If an accident was going to occur,” Savoie said of the apparent good fortune surrounding the circumstances, “at least you have a dozen firemen, paramedics and EMTs out there within an arm’s reach of him.”

The officer was treated at the scene and subsequently conveyed to War Memorial Hospital by Kinross Ambulance. He was later transported to Marquette General Hospital for surgery to remove the slug from his lower leg.

“This is a good officer,” said Savoie indicating there wasn’t any recklessness leading up to the discharge. “It was purely accidental.”

Lt. Hopper added that it appears as though the off-duty trooper was carrying the firearm in a trouser waistline, “tucked in his pants” and not a holster.

“He has carried it that way for probably his whole career,” said Hopper adding the department issued these hammerless guns as a second weapon.

I guess someone has to die in the Great Lake States before the Sheriff and State Police take full responsibility for their officers’ firearms safety. Meanwhile, let this be a lesson to the rest of us: make sure you carry your gun safely and responsibly. That is all.

comments

  1. avatar Charles says:

    Hey, fella, wrap that rascal!

    Imagine a .357 going off in your pants. Yikes! That could have been much worse.

    But it’s also hard to imagine how a magnum round could have been mistaken for a firecracker. I’m guessing he was using .38s.

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    “his sidearm accidentally discharged ”

    Notice the sneaky construction — his sidearm accidentally discharged. Right. He didn’t accidentally discharge his firearm. The gun did it. All by itself. Yup. A bad one will do that.

    1. avatar James Felix says:

      My thoughts exactly. How the heck does a holstered weapon discharge? Since the article specifies .357 I feel comfortable assuming it’s a revolver. Hammerless implies double-action-only. How is it mechanically possible for that thing to spontaneously discharge?

      Are my assumptions unreasonable?

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Your assumptions are precisely accurate. He was Mexican carrying and jammed his own trigger when he turned to exit his vehicle.

        1. avatar Derek says:

          I don’t know. How would he have managed to jam his trigger with that much force? DOA means a 10lbs or more LONG trigger pull. I’m inclined to agree with Robert below; that he was doing something stupid with his gun and had a neglegent discharge. Granted, carrying IWB with no holster is pretty stupid to begin with.

  3. avatar bigdan says:

    When I was a kid my buddy hid a pint of 151 rum in his pants to get it into a concert.
    We were in line at the concession to buy sodas when I looked over to see him gingerly pulling chards of glass out of his underwear. No cocktails that night.

    It burns, it burns!!

  4. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

    Well, it could have been much worse. He’s lucky that it wasn’t a S&W 500.

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    BTW, the officer’s superior has the perfect name for a guy who shoots himself in the leg — Lt. Hopper. Just sayin’.

  6. avatar 2yellowdogs says:

    Nice. Tucked in his waistband, no holster. The full Burress. Just as the safety instructors teach it.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      The full Burress! I love it.

  7. avatar MALTHUS says:

    “[T]he trooper had arrived at the event in his personal vehicle with his family and was exiting when the hammerless (sic) .357-caliber Smith and Wesson discharged.”

    Smith & Wesson revolvers (this is a revolver, right?) are not hammerless; they all have internal hammers, but some of their models are spurless. This design
    feature makes it easier to draw from concealment without snagging. It also make negligent discharges less likely because the hammer cannot be thumb cocked to lessen
    the effort required to fire a shot.

    So how did Hizzoner shoot hizzself? ;^)

    His wife forbids him to carry his loaded gun in the family car. Meekly complying, the trooper strokes the ejector rod, expecting to empty the piece but the J-frame does not provide full-length extraction, causing one overlooked round to remain behind in the cylinder. He now pockets his “empty” gun.

    The trooper arrives at the parade and exits his car.

    With the revolver still in his pocket, he attempts to discreetly perform a safety check by pressing the trigger on what he assumes is an empty gun. Blam!

    Is this a plausible reconstruction of events?

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Safety checking by pulling the trigger? Can someone who drives a car and holds a job be that stupid? Anything’s possible.

      Two things are for sure:

      1. He touched his gun. I remember an instance where an old holster conspired with a car seat to shoot a hole in same. As there was no holster involved, the Statie must have been doing something with his gun. Rearranging it so it didn’t chafe? Removing it to put it in the glove box? Something like that.

      2. He pulled the trigger. I find it incredibly difficult to believe that anyone can pull the trigger on an unmodified revolver “by mistake.” That’s one long, hard trigger pull. Then again, if you grab a gun from your waistband with your finger on the trigger, the gun can get caught up in your pants (regardless of the hammer situation). You end up “removing” the trigger and not the gun. BANG!

      A great reason to encourage TV and movie producers to keep showing holsterless carry as de rigueur for gang bangers.

      1. avatar Charles says:

        He could have been jamming the gun into his pants with his finger on the trigger, when his finger was pushed upwards by his waistband – BLAM!

        BTW, this would probably not have happened if he had been carrying a good ol’ Ruger SP101. Twelve pound triggers are harder to “accidently” pull.

      2. avatar MALTHUS says:

        “He pulled the trigger.”

        (#2–RF)

        If done deliberately, he must have assumed that the piece was empty.

        How does this invalidate my conjecture?

  8. avatar Sid says:

    Ummmmm, wow……

    So, I am willing to bet that in his career the only person he has shot is….. himself.

    Seriously, tucked in his waistband?

    I had to investigate a young soldier on a negligent discharge on our last deployment. I had the local armorer tear the gun down to base metal. No issues. Was basically a low mileage, almost new M240. The kid had not followed the TM designated loading procedure and one round was discharged. Thankfully, he had followed unit SOP and the gun was pointed in a safe direction and no one was hurt. But he paid a price for his mistake. Unlike the Michigan State Police, the US Army believes that the individual has to be responsible. Just like when we were kids in school and paddling was allowed. We all behaved so much better when one of us was paddled. It helped the individual but it also had a calming effect on the group.

    The trooper should be disciplined. Publicly. The taxpayers pay his salary. And as for the dumb-shits who allowed this behavior to be SOP, more public disciplinary action. In the wallet.

    1. avatar mikeb302000 says:

      Would losing his right to own and use firearms be too harsh a punishment?

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Yes. He’s a cop. If he loses his right to carry, he loses his job. Then he’ll have to go to work as a blogger. The world already has one too many of those.

    2. avatar Matt H says:

      It seems to me the punishment he’s already received was swift, severe and public. Hard to improve on that.

  9. avatar Dogman says:

    Okay. We can offer conjectures all day long. We don’t know what happened and probably never will. So, since we don’t know what happened for sure, let’s assign blame to the someone. Okay, let’s blame everyone–cop, department, the sun and moon for being in the wrong astrological position at the same time someone sneezed in Australia while wearing a red cap.

    There’s one thing the lawyers have taught us–it’s always somebody’s fault.

    1. avatar James Felix says:

      In this case at least it very much is somebody’s fault. Either someone manufactured and sold a dangerously defective firearm (which I doubt) or the officer did something very foolish (a near certainty), endangering a lot of people and badly injuring himself in the process. And since we’re talking about deadly force here it’s important to find out who’s responsible and address the problem.

      Pending further details I’ll hold the sun and moon blameless.

  10. avatar Tam 212 says:

    Could be a .357 SIG pistol… Glock or M&P?

  11. avatar Pete says:

    The responsible party is the officer who pulled the trigger in a negligent manner. A “hammerless” S&W (Centennial-style) revolver can only be discharged if the double action-only trigger is pulled fully to the rear. This is very hard to do by catching it on your clothing when inserting it into a waistband, because your clothing is not going to somehow become a hard rod sticking through the trigger guard. There had to have been a finger involved somewhere. and since the police are the ONLY ONES trained and professional enough to carry concealed weapons (or own any weapons at all), this officer’s training MUST have included the proper and safe procedure to carry and holster a concealed weapon. So he has no excuse – he screwed up.

    He is just very lucky that his negligent actions did not result in the death of an innocent third party. That would have been a lot harder for his department to dismiss with the comment that “This is a good officer,” said Savoie indicating there wasn’t any recklessness leading up to the discharge. “It was purely accidental.” And that comment is pure departmental CYA bull puckey. There may not have been any “recklessness”, but there was definitely negligence.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      “there was definitely negligence”

      If a civilian does it, it’s criminal negligence. If a LEO does it, it’s an unfortunate accident. Get with the program, dude. Like Nixon once famously said about a different crime, “when the President does it, it’s not illegal.”

  12. avatar Dogman says:

    I like Todd Green’s take on the subject of gun safety and people who place blame. I hope it’s okay to print a link. http://pistol-training.com/archives/4935

  13. avatar dann says:

    Here’s another irresponsible gun owner/handler: http://www.kfyi.com/pages/broomhead.html?article=8927522

  14. avatar S Barringer says:

    Somehow, the trigger got pulled. Finger? Caught on pants? (not likely) Everyone who has a license to carry a weapon is taught–repeatedly–to keep their fingers off the trigger until ready to pull the trigger. Everyone is taught this. But, when you handle weapons all the time, it’s easy to get negligent. Negligence is most likely the problem here.
    It is remotely possible that the gun had been used until some inner part had become defective and caused an accidental discharge. It happens. That’s why everyone is taught to never, never, ever, point a weapon at anyone, even if you think it’s unloaded. Accidental discharges–without a finger on the trigger–happen.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email