As if this isn't scary enough . . . (courtesy lodi.gov)

“A [unnamed] Lodi Police SWAT officer had a Glock 35 with a flashlight in his thigh holster at a children’s reading event when a boy managed to pull the trigger and shoot the officer,” sacramento.cbslocal.com reports. “The officer was showing off the department’s SWAT truck, vest and other gear at a children’s event called Reading Roundup on Aug. 24. ‘A small child, witnesses tell us was 6 to 8 years old, was able to walk up to the officer and was able to pull the trigger.'” The bullet hit the officer’s leg causing a minor injury—and a lot of freaked-out kids. TTAG reader Hasdrubal responds to the SWAT guy’s negligent discharge (ND) . . .

“As strange as the story a few days ago sounded when a school officer was reported for an ND and claimed keys got wedged in his holster, this one may be even worse. Not just because someone was injured in this incident (though I don’t expect much sympathy because it was the officer who was injured), but because it has happened before.

“This is a known issue, which was first brought to my attention in a department email a few months ago regarding the same thing happening, again with a Glock, and again with a holster sized for use of a weapon mounted light.  It wasn’t in my own department, and I can’t find the email now because I carry a 1911 and didn’t give it much thought- pull the trigger on my sidearm and it will only fire if you defeat the two mechanical safeties that aren’t located directly on the trigger . . .

“As near as I can tell, there is no way to prevent this except situational awareness and keeping other people’s hands away from your gun. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?  Another reason I don’t expect much sympathy.”

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Hasdrubal adds, “This is my own duty belt, with a similar holster to the one I was warned about. Safariland, don’t remember the model.  You can actually see the trigger pretty clearly in this photo, and the gap measures about 3/4.

“This is easily enough space to put my own finger inside and pull the trigger. A child’s hand should be an even easier fit, which makes a very obvious point to me.  Just as we do not trust mechanical safety devices on the weapon itself to prevent an ND, we do not trust mechanical safety devices on the holster either.

“Situational awareness is not limited to spotting the attacker. It covers everything.”

83 Responses to Lodi, CA SWAT ND Down to “Holster Issues.” Or Not.

  1. Yeah.

    A properly fitting RETENTION holster covers the trigger and makes it impossible for a 2nd grade student to walk up and pull the trigger.

    That officer should be relieved of duty immediately for NOT having a properly fitting holster and for NOT having a retention holster.

    • Safariland holsters are generally regarded as adequate quality. Thanks to the size of weapon mounted lights, it is completely possible when the holster is in good condition, to reach the trigger without removing the gun.

      These sre the hard sided, multiple retention device models I see every day. Not Uncle Mike’s floppy nylon.

  2. I am confused. Does a holster designed to accommodate a light leave a gap over the trigger guard through which a kid could pull the trigger? Never seen such a holster.

    • The cheap nylon material ones I have seen while they cover the trigger there is a gap between the grip and trigger that I can see some kid putting his finger inside and getting to the trigger since they flex.

      If those holsters had a flap that would come up to the grip it would still work a prevent most anything from getting to the trigger.

      I hate those holsters in general.

      • Fair point. I forgot about those nylon holsters. But I don’t know that I have ever seen one designed for a weapon light, and it has been awhile since I have seen a cop with a nylon holster.

        • There is a small gap on my holster holding my Smith 4006 TSW with Streamlight TLR-S weapon light. If someone were to pull the weapon up while still in the holster, it is possible to contact the trigger. I coild potentially fire the gun while still inside the holster. Holsters that can accommodate weapon lights can have this issue. Although the SWAT officer was negligent, I don’t believe termination is appropriate. He does have a whole in his leg.

          Kids try to touch guns in holsters – don’t let them. I don’t wade into crowds without covering my weapon with my strong hand and / or taking other precautions. Retention is important in any open carry situation.

  3. Not to hijack this but…

    Anyone else having an issue where, when clicking a link, the site switches to(what I assume is) the mobile version?

    This article did it for me and has happened in others over the last few days. When I click the back button it goes back to normal.

    Running W7 and Firefox 23.0.1.

    • I was experiencing similar problems in the last few days but everything seems to be working fine today. I also use Firefox 23.0.1

    • Nope. Running the same version of Firefox, but Mac OSX 10.8.4 (Mountain Lion), which is a bit buggy at the present, on a brand new iMac (2.7 GHz Intel Core).

      Some issues, but not that one.

    • Robb, you are not the first with that complaint, and the boffins have been alerted and are on the case. And the formatting. And the semicolon at the top of the page. And the ads for Candy Crush Saga. And…

  4. @Hasdrubal, can you better explain how this might happen? Any pictures?

    BTW, I hate a flashlight on a carry pistol. On a bedside home protector, I think they’re acceptable, but not for me.

      • Shooting with one hand holding a flashlight is less accurate than shooting with both hands on a sidearm. Additionally, some police have to do something with their other hand- use a shield, hold a dog-leash, etc. While most patrol officers usually are not equipped with weapon-mounted lights, special units like swat teams and K9 handlers often do have them.

        • I have a gun mounted light and love it for patrol. I practice the manipulations often and use it all the time. IMO, there’s no reason for a patrol officer NOT to have a gun light.

          PS- When I say I use it all the time, I don’t mean I use it as a flashlight…Don’t be like the guy in the Iraq picture who is using it to light up a captured insurgent so his photo can be taken!

    • Ralph, I just sent two pictures of my own gear to RF. No telling if he will get them tonight, though. I think of a weapon light as a backup, the only time I ever use mine is shining on the floor as I open a door with my flashlight hand. Maybe on for two seconds, pointed in a relatively safe direction, and off as soon as my other hand is free.

  5. I’d like to know why he’s carrying a G35. It’s a competition pistol with the top of the slide cut out. It’d be great to have to clear a jam in an actual shootout because something got into the cutout and caused it to not cycle properly.

    • I do not believe Glock makes any firearms in the US or any other market that have manual safeties. I don’t know if the full auto pistol has a manual safety.

      • But it has a manual decocker, right? I forgot about the Glock not having a safety. Only one I’ve shot was that Mini-40 a guy at work had (I once worked in a place that had a functional gun range that had been used by Greenspan’s bodyguards – 100 bonus points for anyone who can figure out what this place was!); it was the single most unpleasant think I’ve ever shot.

        • But it has a manual dec0cker, right?

          No. It’s a striker-fired pistol with no safety or dec0cker. Nor does it need either.

      • The glock 18 has a selector switch, semi and full. I don’t know if it’s also got a safe position. Glocks are designed to fire when the trigger is pulled. Seems like this Glock did what it was designed to do.

        • No, no ‘safe’ position on the selector. That’s in the trigger. Leave that alone, and the gun doesn’t fire. Simple.

      • Now to be fair, how many people prior to reading about this would put “unload sidearm before entering anyplace children may be found” on their to do list? Non light bearing holsters, like most concealment rigs, do not have this issue. Many replace it with a lack of retention devices beyond simple friction(meaning ccw, not lightless duty gear).

        Cop or not, a holster that releases when you pull on the gun is also vulnerable to children’s hands. However, I doubt many of you would let a child yank on it. Chalk up another point for situational awareness.

    • Better question, if it’s an event to get kids to read, why are they using a SWAT team to draw kids to the event? Why are these people behind the reading event (whom I’d assume are educational professionals) glorifying people for having guns and funny hats? Of ALL the people you could get to foster a love of reading in young people (…authors maybe, DUH?), why would you choose to bring in a group of guys who maybe between the 12 of them read 4 or 5 books a year for pleasure, with the majority of those books probably being about war, combat and death?

      • Because many kids, unlike adults, have not gotten a speeding ticket or been arrested and so are not pissed off at anyone with a uniform.

        • And… we can see the conditioning works. Sorry, this has nothing to do with tickets and everything to do with having a perspective about where the police should be seen.

          A school is a place for learning, it is not supposed to be a place where kids wind up with a juvey record for being kids, only by virtue of the fact there’s an SRO standing around who needs to look like he’s doing something. It is not normal to be arrested for fighting at school, coming to school a bit drunk, or, egads, having some weed. We did all this and much, much more in the 60/70/80s, we go sent to the principal’s office, maybe even got some detention, and we all turned out just fine. Now the poor kids in public schools get arrested – can’t wait to see the long-term studies on the effect of that

          I don’t hate coppers (the good ones) by any stretch, but the ongoing moves to make this country into one big prison camp are not what the Founders had in mind.

  6. Once again, why tiny little s-burgs (Lodi’s about 58K if memory serves) have absolutely no effen business with wannabe ‘SWAT’. None.

    Were anything even mildly exciting to ever happen there, Sacto is just a spit and a holler up 99. They have plenty of spare SWAT capacity.

    • If they didn’t have a SWAT team, how would they justify buying all those cool paramilitary toys? I mean, it’s California, there’s no other way these guys are going to get to play with select-fire rifles, so they have little choice but to waste taxpayer dollars on “tactical capabilities” that they will never, ever have a need for.

  7. OMG, maybe if you’re around small children you should consider carrying (Israeli) unchambered? Not to mention that if an officer doesn’t have time to rack the slide when drawing his gun, then he was the target to begin with…

    Which brings up another question, do any of you keep your long arms chambered/charged?

    • My wife suggested going Israeli for such an event and I shot that down. A round in the chamber isn’t the problem (though that sure would have fixed it). The problem is situational awareness (keep the little buggers off your piece), appropriate holster design (you know, go with something little fingers can’t get it), and perhaps a little use of authority if you’re being mobbed. Frankly if you can’t keep small children from touching your gun I can’t imagine how you order BG’s to do anything with any credence or authority.

      As for the long arms, if I’m packing it it’s chambered, so yes, If I carry a rifle it’s charged.

    • The problem is not the bullet in the chamber- that’s how the gun is designed to be carried. The problem is the finder on the trigger. Carrying a gun that needs to be racked before firing is dumb and defeats the purpose in many cases; doubly so for a police officer carrying a firearm openly.

      Our long arms are chambered if they are in our hands.

    • I carry my lever actions rifles without a round in the chamber. See Art of the Rifle by Cooper for the manual of arms. Its pretty natural and loses no time. I like it because they go in and out of a scabbard on the tractors. I never lost a shot on anything worth shooting because of an empty chamber in a lever action. If I carried a semi auto rifle, bolt, or pump shotgun , I would definitely chamber one.

      I cannot think of a worse idea than carrying a defensive handgun without a round in the chamber. If the idea bothers you, buy a gun with a different active manual safety, a harder trigger pull, or a better holster .

  8. The G35 is marketed a a competition gun. It comes from the factory with a lighter trigger than the service, compact and subcompact .40s.

    • Most departments order them with the standard 5.5lb connector, therefore making it the same trigger pull weight of a G17, G23 etc. My local department has a few officers who compete in USPSA using G34s and G35s and they carry what they compete and are used to for muscle memory. Only difference is standard weight triggers in their duty gun

  9. I hope the guy recovers without permanent injury. . . so I won’t feel so bad about thinking this is hilarious.

    I totally get using SWAT for the event, kids love that stuff. What I don’t get is an ill-fitting and or inappropriate holster. Let’s think about this, you’re going to be mobbed by little people, for many of whom a thigh holster is eye level, they have little fingers, bad manners and insatiable curiosity. Why would you go to that event without a full on retention holster?

  10. Ya know, if these were still made exclusively in Austria, Obama would issue an executive order tomorrow banning importation as unacceptably dangerous to civilians.

  11. Frankly, carrying a G35 with a light as a carry pistol fairly scrams “I dream of making a hero shot, after which everyone will admire me. I’ll need target accuracy and a light trigger to pull it off. I’m 24/7 S.W.A.T. Man.” As it is, the kid admired him but the ‘hero’ got shot. Ironic. Hell of a reading group, though. (I personally wish anyone attempting a hero shot would use a scoped rifle and a bipod)

    No doubt the entire S.W.A.T. team is thrilled with this guy’s remarkable public-relations coup on their behalf, in a tough budget year.

    • Oh, I bet they’re not gonna complain too much – it’ll get them some more gold-plated OT with ‘their invaluable team down a crucial man’ or some such nonsense.

      They always get their man paycheck.

    • Until you get to the G18, I think they pretty much function the same. Might as well complain about the kind of boots he wears, except I don’t think it was mentioned in the story. Seriously, one semi auto Glock is the same as any number of other semi auto Glocks, unless it’s a bit smaller or in a different caliber.

      • Perhaps. But I’ll point out two things. First, PD’s all around the nation pay attention to the trigger weight they allow on patrol pistols. Second, if the guy carried, as you do, a 1911, even the holster involved would have made the thumb safety inaccessible. Memo to self: Being a special guest at a children’s reading group is one time I”ll definitely use Fairbairn carry, i.e. carry unchambered.

        • The Glock 35 has a standard 5.5 pound trigger pull and a 5.32″ barrel. . It is the same as the 17 and 22 (both in heavy police use) 19, 23, 26, 27, etc. My Glock 35 is respectably accurate – for a Glock – but I wouldn’t put it up against a Sig 226 or high quality 1911.

  12. You know, just because a guy is on a SWAT team doesn’t necessarily mean he knows anything about Special Weapons and Tactics. The more I read his choice of holster wasn’t the only problem. . As Rope points out, his pistol was a pretty poor choice for police work as well.

  13. SWAT should have left their guns in their armored vehicles. Guns are for self defense (defense of police in this case) and therefore not needed in a gun free zone.

    • I used to visit there about once a month on business. It’s just not dangerous at all, unless you are a fan of Zinfandel…

  14. Has everyone here seen or know how easy it is to cock the Glock, one handed?
    The slide needs to move a half inch back, and you’re cocked and ready to fire.
    The only safety at this point is your finger, as there is no Glock decocking option
    short of removing the mag, and then ejecting the chambered round from the gun,
    at which point, you can safely pull the trigger and release the hammer(striker).
    If you holster the Glock, and your holster pushes the slide back a fraction of an
    inch, it’s cocked and will fire upon a trigger pull, whether in or out of the holster.
    I’m suggesting this Glock was already half-cocked when the little finger decide
    to poke around. So, we have a SWAT dude walking around half-cocked at an
    event where there would be curious children? Not only was this a preventable
    ND, it was monumentally poor tactical thinking for a SWAT guy.

    • I was going to do a big technical dissertation on cruciform pieces and drop-down steps in trigger housings, but suffice it to say that ALL Glocks are ALWAYS ‘half-cocked’; The striker spring is always under compression when assembled in the slide, and full tensioning is completed at the moment the trigger bar reaches full rearward motion. Maintaining constant partial compression on the striker spring ‘at rest’ allows the signature Glock short trigger stroke.

      The effect that you are describing is ‘trigger reset.’ That is when the trigger cruciform piece rides up and forward out of the drop-down step to reengage the striker tang, holding the striker partially to the rear to withdraw the striker nose back inside the standing breech face and to reengage the firing-pin safety plunger as the slide returns to battery, which also allows the connector to snap back into place over the rear of the trigger-bar extension. The energy to do this is provided by the trigger return spring and the recoil spring.

      Next, I’ll explain how head cheese is made.

  15. Here is a quick breakdown on the issue from my point of view as a holster manufacturer. Safariland makes some great/ very impressive retention holsters for the law enforcement market with multiple layers of retention to keep the bad guys from being able to get the officers gun. The models that are not set up for a Tac light do a great job of protecting both the gun and the trigger. The problem comes when you try to use that same setup to accommodate a weapon mounted light that is considerably wider than the firearm like the Surefire X-300. In order to be able to draw the weapon with the light on it, the holster body has to be as wide as the light in a line running from the front rail up past the trigger guard. This means there is about an inch of extra room around the trigger guard, and yes it means the supper high speed holster with three levels of retention on it won’t stop a bad guy, bad girl, or a child from being able to fire the weapon in the holster. I don’t see this as a shortcoming of the holster manufacturer either. It is really a problem of physics created by the fact that the light is considerably wider than the fire arm. The real solution to the problem is probably going to require thiner lights like the Inforce APL.

    • That’s what many seem to be missing.

      This wasn’t a junk holster, this is a Safariland, it’s the INDUSTRY STANDARD when it comes to duty type holsters. The officer might have had an issue with situational awareness (but having worked with children, they can get into trouble VERY quickly. Like little ninjas), but his holster choice wasn’t the issue.

      As you point out, it’s a matter of physics why the trigger is exposed, and it’s the same problem any kydex holster has when dealing with a weapon mounted light. You can never prevent 100%, and all things have tradeoffs. I’ll still use light bearing safarilands until something better comes out because the benefits outweight the negatives.

  16. I don’t know about the rest of the folks here, but whether I’m carrying open OR concealed NO ONE gets within arms reach of my strong side….

  17. One other person addressed my concern: Situational Awareness

    While everyone seems to be all .gov intervention of having a SWAT officer and stuff at the event, I am more concerned that he was unaware that a child was in close proximity and handling his holstered firearm.

    I am also a mite concerned that the Lodi PD thought a children’s reading event was a good place for a SWAT static display. Not being from the DPRCA however, they may have their reasons as to why it made sense. This event illustrates the over militarization and shoot first mindset most LE agencies are trending towards, also seen in the Dorner events.

  18. I’m going to point out that the possibility of this type of event is one of the reasons why I don’t OC in town, even in a gun-friendly state like Wyoming. I’ll OC when I’m out in the brush or up in the mountains, but never in town.

    When one has a weapon out in the open, some people are going to be curious. Everywhere, that means kids. Kids are naturally curious, especially little boys. If it goes “whirr,” “clunk,” or “bang,” a little boy is congenitally programmed to poke his booger-hooks into it and explore it. It matters not a whit that the little boy could be seriously hurt. Explore they must, explore they will: That’s what little boys do.

    Only feminist harpies try to claim little boys should do otherwise, and feed them all manner of drugs to turn them into dullards and compliant little drones.

    In Wyoming, there’s plenty of older people who will comment on your OC’ed gun and get into a debate with you about the type of gun you’re carrying, not “why are you carrying a gun?”

    If I OC’ed, I’d soon grow tired of having to shoo children away (because I like kids and I like teaching them what I can about whatever I might know in impromptu situations) and I’d grow even more tired of getting into conversations with the grown-ups like responding to the inevitable “Why are you carrying that plastic POS Glock when you’re a guy who loves wood and metal?”

    When I was a little boy, angling to get my booger hooks into any gun I could, I got a stern talking-to from a cop when I was about, oh, nine. He saw me work my way up to him in a crowd and I was eyeballing his revolver, then I made a move to touch it. It was like he had eyes in the back of his head. He took me aside and politely, but very firmly told me that I should never, ever, ever touch a cop’s gun on his duty belt, under any circumstances, ever. He made it a point to make sure that the other kids in the crowd around us could hear him too. Problem solved, for that particular day.

    Then he made a comment to my mom that she should get me involved in a structured shooting program, which she did. Problem solved for the long term.

    • “Problem solved for the long term.”

      Or created, depending your point of view and the thickness of your wallet.

      • DG,

        Once again, I find myself intrigued by your insights. It’s good to know that a police officer – albeit a classic sounding one – played a positive role in your upbringing.

        As an 8 year old, a police officer came over to eliminate a possible rabid raccoon near our home in rural West Bend, WI. He had a stainless steel .357 revolver with extra rounds in a black leather belt. Amazing. I was absolutely forbidden to go out with the officer, and never found out what happened with the ‘coon. I vowed that I would, some day, have a job where I could carry a gun.

  19. I’m trying to get straight in my head WHY a police officer would use a weapon mounted light… ever???

    They have a bad enough reputation for ND and just plain shooting the wrong people without using a carrying a flashlight that tempts them into pointing a weapon at what might be a Solid Citizen going about their business…

    A real flashlight can be shined on suspected Bad Guys from OFF AXIS and protect the officer from giving away their position, keeps the weapon pointed in a safe direction till needed (assuming minimal training), and protects the public from ND fired by an enthusiastic but poorly trained individual in a night time scenario…

    THIS is yet another reason why seeing LEOs with automatic weapons, weapons mounted lights, and other TackyKewl gear just flat scares the crap out of me…

    BTW… NO police officer ought to have any weapon on or available to them that Citizens in that jurisdiction are allowed to own and carry…

    • “I’m trying to get straight in my head WHY a police officer would use a weapon mounted light… ever???”

      To find his holster, obviously! 😉

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