SureFire Sued Over Plano Accidental Shooting

On-gun doodads can definitely be handy. I have a Crimson Trace laser on a P3AT I carry and it’s one of the best things I’ve bought, gun-wise. As useless as that little thing’s sights are, a frickin’ laser beam is pretty much a necessity for that kind of pistol. But as with just about all things gun-related, if you don’t also train with the stuff you slap on your gat, the results can be bad. Really bad . . .

In RF’s original post on this tragic incident, he pointed out the weaselly “non-clarity” as to whether the un-named Plano, Texas cop in question was trained with the SureFire WeaponLight. To save you a click, Michael Alcala was accidentally shot and killed when the officer muzzled him and tried to turn on his gun-mounted light. Except he pulled the trigger instead. As ocregister.com recounts:

“I was attempting to squeeze the light mechanism when my weapon fired and the suspect fell to the ground,” the unidentified Plano, Texas, officer said in an affidavit.

Now that Alcala’s family has collected $245,000 in damages (out of a statutorily limited max of $250,000) from the city of Plano, they’re going after SureFire for an unspecified amount.

As predictably and properly instructed by their attorneys, SureFire isn’t commenting on the suit. Other than to release this:

“In 1986 SureFire introduced the first light designed specifically for mounting on handguns. This light (equipped with remote switching) was quickly adopted by SWAT teams. In 2004 SureFire introduced the current X-Series WeaponLights, intended primarily for attachment to handguns. There are well over 100,000 SureFire X-Series lights and tens of thousands of optional grip-activated “DG” and “SL” switches in use today, and our competitors have sold thousands of other pistol-mountable lights themselves. During this 25-year period this was the first reported safety-related incident involving our pistol-mounted lights and switches. These figures alone show that SureFire WeaponLights, and weapon-mounted lights are safe.”

comments

  1. avatar DaveL says:

    “I was attempting to squeeze the light mechanism when my weapon fired and the suspect fell to the ground,” the unidentified Plano, Texas, officer said in an affidavit.

    It just fired, did it? Like that time you were slicing onions and your weapon fired? Or that time you were watching CSI and your weapon fired? Oh, right – that never happens. It’s only when you’re fiddle-f*cking around the trigger that your weapon ‘just goes off.’ Strange coincidence, that.

  2. avatar GS650G says:

    I am sorry for their loss but SureFire is not at fault. Their ambulance chaser will make a huge mistake putting this in front of a jury. SureFire should resist any out of court settlement unless they are ready for 100 more.

    1. avatar Mamba says:

      +1…clearly human error, not mechanical or design. Personally I use an offset mount with the light being thumb-activated.

  3. avatar jkp says:

    “Now that Alcala’s family has collected $245,000 in damages (out of a statutorily limited max of $250,000) from the city of Plano,”

    Ah, yes, there’s some of those ‘tort reform’ chickens coming home to roost.

    1. avatar Tim McNabb says:

      The tort reform that protects the city of Plano will also protect SureFire – unless they are being sued in a different jurisdiction.

  4. avatar Eric says:

    Dan: Nice Austin Powers reference….

  5. avatar CarlosT says:

    This kind of thing is why I’m skeptical of weapon mounted lights. This is by far the first time something like this has happened and the fact that it’s impossible to illuminate something without muzzling it is a serious flaw.

    1. Actually, it’s not necessary to point the gun at someone to illuminate them. You can do it with reflected light, the less-bright ring around the center of the beam.

      It’s not as bright, but a lot safer.

      1. avatar CarlosT says:

        Okay, this is true to an extent, but if you want to get good light on soneone’s face to positively ID or temporarily blind them, it’s a lot safer with a handheld than with a weapon mounted.

    2. avatar matt says:

      Surefire does make diffusers for their lights.

  6. avatar Corey says:

    Since when are the switches for lights mounted right on the trigger?

    1. avatar CarlosT says:

      They’re not, but what I think probably happened is that with stress induced butterfingers, the finger kept going and carried on to the trigger.

    2. avatar TCBA_Joe says:

      They’re not.

      This light was equiped with a surefire DG switch, which is activated by squeezing with your middle finger. The switch is directly underneath the trigger guard and is activated with a different finger altogether than the trigger.

      1. avatar rosignol says:

        If that’s the case, this sounds like it was operator error, not a design flaw or equipment malfunction.

        1. avatar TCBA_Joe says:

          And that’s the reason this whole situation is as stupid as it is.

          Dan, the picture at the top doesn’t give an accurate portrayal as to this officers handgun setup. This picture is more accurate as the switch is whats “on trial”.
          http://www.patriotoutfitters.com/img/products/57800/57841.jpg

  7. avatar Accur81 says:

    #1. Don’t give the police a reason to draw on you. This creates a stressful situation, and the police sometimes make mistakes.

    #2. I’ve carried gun lights from Olight, Surefire, and Streamlight in professional and recreational capacities, and I’d bet my paycheck that the light itself was not the issue.

    #3. Weapon-mounted lights greatly enhance control, accuracy, and target identification under low-light conditions. That is precisely why experienced operators have used them for so many years. Try holding a flashlight in your support hand and getting tight groups in the dark vs. a quality weapon mounted light on a handgun or AR and you’ll see.

    It’s a shame that a good company like Surefire has to entertain lawsuits of such nature.

  8. avatar ready, fire,aim says:

    perfect case of not knowing his trigger from a hole in the ground….

  9. avatar Tom says:

    Usually lights attract attention and bullets according to most Veterans I know and have known.

  10. avatar Matt Gregg says:

    So a user error led to a negligent discharge that was promptly blamed on the flashlight. Sadly this FUBAR ended with a man’s death.

    Shall we condemn Surefire and weapon lights in general now or do we need to wait for Tex Grebner to shoot himself again before we start the hue and cry?

  11. avatar Daniel says:

    I wonder if you can use this as an excuse while car jacking someone? “Officer, I didn’t mean to steal the car and shoot the driver… while switching on my gun mounted light the gun just went off, so I was driving the man to the hospital.”

  12. avatar Larry or Bob says:

    The surefire light did not shoot the poor guy, it was an idiot in uniform with a piece of garbage glock that “accidentally” shot him, if it was indeed an accident and not a extralegal murder/execution.

    Police have no business using glock pistols for law enforcement, its this hammer-less single-action pistol with a hair trigger and no safety lock that has shot and killed hundreds of people over the years because the gun “accidentally” was fired. And do not forget the countless citizens whom have “accidentally” shot themselves with this glock piece of garbage.

    Poor little policeman is under stress, lets all cry big crocodile tears for him – until you have to bury your friend, neighbor, or relative because of an twitchy trigger-finger and a glock pistol.

    Law enforcement should be forced to use a safer double-action only handgun like the SIG 226 or Beretta 92, not a single-action no safety piece of garbage, heavly marketed by post Nazi Austrian industrialists and countless Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.

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