“Two weeks before Spokane police Officer Barry O’Connell’s daughter accidently shot herself [in the leg] Easter Sunday with her father’s department-issued pistol,” spokesman.com reports, “O’Connell [above] had completed a gun safety refresher course stressing the importance of properly securing firearms – especially around children.” Officer O’Connell wouldn’t be the first cop (or salesman) to take a training course and ignore its lessons. But the fact that O’Connell’s instructor upbraided his student for piss-poor muzzle control and nonchalant gun handling indicates larger issues with the Spokane force. Why didn’t Sgt. Matthew Cowles recommend that the force confiscate O’Connell’s gun and sideline the officer until he learned proper gun handling? According to Cowles . . .
“I reiterated that we have a special responsibility to our own children and need to keep our firearms stored safely,” Cowles wrote in a report that was included in the shooting investigation. “I made special note that we don’t want any of our children hurt and we don’t want to be the next news story.”
Cowles wrote that he pulled O’Connell aside and spoke to him after Cowles watched O’Connell flip his gun out of his holster without looking where it was pointed.
“He looked at me with a blank expression and said, ‘Well, I am confident in my gun handling,’ ” Cowles wrote. “I told him bluntly, ‘Barry, obviously you weren’t listening. On the range you will handle weapons safely and follow instructions.’ I was less than impressed by his nonchalance attitude while attending training.”
Bad but not worth disarmament. Until you consider that “It was the 16th time O’Connell has faced internal investigation, and the decision to let him return to the force after his suspension was described as a ‘last chance.’”
Sixteen? You want to talk about CYA, circling the wagons and a cover-up? Double secret probation this: even after O’Connell’s daughter aimed his gun at a friend (a fact that somehow didn’t make the official report) and shot herself, the Powers That Be decided to let it be.
When investigators searched the room, they found two more loaded pistols left unsecured on a closet shelf.
The daughter suffered a broken leg and possible nerve damage but was released from the hospital within days. Three weeks later, Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Brian O’Brien declined to charge O’Connell with a crime.
O’Brien wrote that O’Connell “accidentally” left the gun on the night stand, despite the officer admitting that he placed the loaded gun there to remind himself to clean it.
“By all study and legal review, this is an accidental shooting,” O’Brien wrote. “It may rise to the level of negligence, but does not constitute chargeable criminal conduct under these facts.”
The obvious thought: if a non-law enforcement official (i.e., you or me) had displayed this level of negligence we would have lost our gun rights forever. In a heartbeat. Not to mention the possibility of facing criminal charges for child endangerment.
That’s without considering the possibility that one of O’Connell’s six vehicle crashes may have involved alcohol. What are the odds he was breathalyzed?
Good on the newspaper for unearthing the truth about this ND, but what isn’t the Spokane Police Department telling taxpayers about O’Connell? How can the public trust them when . . .
During the criminal and internal probes, records do not reflect any time where O’Connell was asked why he didn’t unload the weapon if his intention was to clean it. However, the department’s Administrative Review Panel noted that quandary in its findings.
“A prudent person using common sense would likely unload the firearm prior to leaving it unsecured on top of a dresser in a home where children are present,” the report stated. “Unloading the gun is necessary prior to cleaning so it would seem that unloading the gun would be a reasonable step prior to leaving it lying out.”
O’Connell still works for the force: $78k p.a. plus bennies. Until and unless LEO admininstrators come clean about their dirty members and get rid of them, law enforcement will continue to lose the respect of their paymasters.
Not that the cops seems to care. Or, especially, their unions. Hey, I wonder if the Spokane cop who sued the city for $4m for firing him for drunk driving—after failing to consider his alcoholism a disability—won his lawsuit.