Bridgeport CT PD officer Juan Santiago Jr.  (courtesy ctpost.com)

CZ sent us a link to blog.ctnews.com‘s story about a negligent discharge (ND) by a Bridgeport Police Department officer. Suffice it to say Officer Juan Santiago Jr. had no business “borrowing” a customer’s loaded .45—unless and until he’d mastered the fine art of trigger and muzzle control. (You might say he had no business being a law enforcement officer either, but I couldn’t possibly comment.) The newspaper report on Officer Santiago’s ballistic slip-up offers more than the usual tale of “gun safety” fail. The original post and its three updates illustrate the “one rule for you one rule for us” prevarications that accompany police NDs. Here’s the sequence in chronological order . . .

Original Post, 9:28 a.m. 

A Bridgeport police officer is in good condition at St. Vincent’s Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the leg.

Sources said the officer was inside the Bagel King restaurant on Main Street when the gun accidentally discharged.

The officer, who was not immediately identified, was met at the hospital by a phalanx of Bridgeport police.

Spokesman Bill Kaempffer confirmed that the officer was shot by accident.

“We’re not looking for a suspect,” he says.

 Update, 9:55 a.m. 

The Bagel King on Main Street was busy serving hot coffee and breakfast sandwiches an hour after a Bridgeport police officer was accidentally shot inside.

TV crews gathered outside waiting for a briefing.

The officer who was injured frequently comes into the shop, a clerk said. “I heard the shot, it was scary,” she said.

A customer who wouldn’t give his name said another customer either asked to see the officer’s gun or showed him a gun he had.

Update, 10:05 a.m.

A doctor who frequents the Bagel King said that he’d loaned his .45 semi-automatic pistol to a Bridgeport officer and the officer was returning it Tuesday morning when another cop asked to see it.

“He picked it up off the table.”

Update, 10:18 a.m. 

[Note: The officer had previously been inaccurately identified as Juan Gonzalez.]

Sources identified the Bridgeport police officer shot early this morning as Juan Santiago, and said the officer shot himself in the leg with a target pistol he didn’t realize was loaded.

Another officer had borrowed the .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and was returning it when the shooting happened, the gun’s owner said.

“It was on the table and he picked it up and cocked it,” said the gun owner, who asked not to be identified.

“It wasn’t loaded but there was a magazine in it and when he cocked it a bullet moved into the chamber.”

A Bagel King employee said both officers come in nearly every day.

“I’m sure he’s a bit embarrassed by what happened,” the employee said.

66 Responses to Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Bridgeport, CT Officer Juan Santiago, Jr.

  1. I’m a civie and I do not touch another persons firearm unless they have shown it to be safe then I safe it myself. Damn whats the qualification to be a cop, no training apparently, in Ct.

  2. He COCKED it, and a bullet went into the chamber. What manner of strange firearm do this be?

    I suppose he meant the cop racked the slide. I can’t imagine anything else. WHY RACK THE SLIDE in a busy establishment? Maybe he can get a job in the bagel joint; he’s certainly unsuitable for law enforcement.

    • Step 1: Remove the magazine.
      Step 2. Rack the slide and visually inspect the chamber for a round.
      Step 3. Lock the slide.
      Step 4: Apply the safety, where applicable.

      Step 1: Visually inspect the chamber…

      • Yes, but you can’t cock a semi-auto to put a round in the chamber. The statement would make sense with a revolver, as the cylinder rotates when you cock it.

        PS> I Think most strikers can only be cocked by racking or pulling the trigger.

    • You’re being a little pedantic, don’t you think? The guy that was quoted was obviously using “cocked” as shorthand for “racked the slide.” Furthermore, check this out… it’s entirely possible that he initially said “racked the slide/gun” and when the reporter asked him what that meant, he clarified with the word “cocked,” and the reporter just fused the two quotes together for the final print version. That sort of thing is absolutely not unheard of in the journalistic profession. Without the original source interview, there’s no way to be sure.

      Kind of a “mountain out of a molehill” situation you’re creating, if you ask me.

      • I don’t think it’s making a “mountain out of a molehill”. People SERIOUSLY need to understand how these things work & either the journalist or the one being interviewed was ignorant.

        • I think expecting the journalist to get it right… well, I think that ship largely sailed a couple decades ago.

          As far as “the one being interviewed,” again, did you see what I said about the fused quote? That’s a very common thing. I generally try to avoid calling people ignorant unless I know for sure, i.e. have the source material.

        • Yes, I used to be in a position with a company where I was interviewed on the product on occasion. I was a “product specialist.” Newspapers and other outlets almost never quoted me correctly, and it pissed me off so freaking much. Literally I mean there would be quotations around words and sentences that supposedly came out of my mouth but they were NOT accurate to what I had said. It’s really absolute BS how it apparently works. Opened my eyes. Our VP of Marketing & VP of PR both told me it was completely expected and normal.

          So… IMHO… it is 100% completely and totally fair to put zero credence whatsoever into the gun owner or whomever having said “cocked” in this instance. The reporter could have entirely mangled whatever the guy actually said. In fact, based on my experience, I think it’s more likely than not.

      • What about “The gun accidentally discharged”? Would it be overly pedantic to expect it to be written as, “The officer accidentally discharged the gun”? Sorry, but the idea of guns going around and accidentally discharging all over the place is one of my pet peeves.

      • And they use “Clips” as shorthand for “Magazines” and “Assault Weapons” is for “semi-automatic rifles.”

    • Somewhat off subject, but I’ve seen dozens of movies where (usually) the bad guy gets the drop on the good guy. After a considerable time of talk, moving around the building, etc., the gun guy finally racks the slide if a pistol, or in the case of a pump shotgun, gives it a stroke. I doubt the movie makers realize what they’re implying here.

  3. Not trying to bash LEOs but the double standard is ridiculous when they have NDs, leave their guns in the bathroom stall, unsecured to be stolen and face no charges. The rest of us would be charged for any of those acts of negligence but they seem to get a pass over and over.

    • Most people in the U.S. deeply believe in authoritarianism, basically treating an authority figure as a surrogate parent, so when a representative of authority (a cop) does something wrong, they often run to their defense.

      I believe this is very close to the root of why cops are allowed to do things that a non-cop would be admonished (or arrested) for.

  4. I thought guns were frowned upon in ct. Especially in public. Was the gun owner conceal carrying it before he gave it to the cop?

    • Open carry is legal… given there was a cop present that makes extra special Okay and no hyper hysteria occurred. Its only a problem when you not have a cop buddy.

    • From what I read, it looked more like the first cop borrowed the gun to go shooting with over the weekend from his doctor friend. the cop’s partner, then picked up the gun at the location where he was giving it back and ended up shooting himself in the leg.

    • In a “may issue” state, a $500 contribution to the local sherriff’s re-election campaign will usually get you approved. Given that the owner of the 1911 in question is an MD, he can probably afford it.

  5. A target pistol you say? Did it have a magazine well outside of the pistol grip or a threaded barrel? If so, that’s an assault weapon, baby, and I’d like to know if that “loan” was an illegal transfer.

  6. I can imagine he picked it up off the table and unconsciously, reflexively racked the slide thinking errr… assuming it was unloaded. Why in God’s name he decided to “check the trigger pull” while pointing it at someone…just another reason why I get nervous around the “Hey, check out my gun” crowd. Next time fellas, just tell the doctor no thanks.

    • Regards to Matt in FL, since we do not have the original source material on the report, but I will venture a guess that the pistol was lying on the table top with the slide locked open and a magazine in the well. Best assumption is that when the cop picked it up he released the slide lock which chambered a round AND cocked the pistol. Then he stupidly pulled the trigger while the muzzle was pointed at his leg.

  7. I thought the “he picked it up and cocked it” statement may have been from someone less familiar with firearms. After re-reading the article, I can see the statement came from the GUN OWNER, who (I can see why) does not want to be identified.

    I guess the subtlety of checking the chamber without chambering a round are lost on the gun handler… well that and rules 2 and 3.

    • As mentioned above, that statement came from the reporter who wrote the story. You must understand that regardless of what people *actually* say, what makes it into the story, even in quotations, is entirely up to the person who writes the story. Having given interviews many times, I can tell you that it is the norm to be misquoted (especially when the subject matter is not well-known to the reporter), not the exception. Obviously I don’t know for sure that’s the case here, but I can tell you that it’s as likely as anything can be and there’s no way whatsoever that you should conclude from the article that the gun owner actually said those exact words.

  8. Was anyone in the restaurant frightened by the display of weaponry? Brandishing? Inducing panic? Oh that’s right. They are trained leos. The donut shoppe used to be the safest place in town… these days… not so much.

  9. And another thing… the only reason the cops give weak ass excuses like “the gun just went off” is because most of America believes that actually can happen.

  10. The table top in a busy breakfast joint seems like an odd place to set a gat they you’re “returning,” right? Especially when you consider that it’s freaking Bridgeport, CT. I like to think I live in a fairly gun-friendly area (TN) and I wouldn’t put a gun on the table top down here. So much fail in this story.

  11. What a knucklehead.
    He should be forced back to the academy for firearms re-training.
    Or heck, just fire him. He’s too stoopid.

  12. What about this term” negligent discharge”. Yeah I get negligence… a legal term meaning you violated the standard of care of your profession. But discharge? Like when I have a blowout in my tighty whiteys? No, man. He SHOT the guy. He DRILLED the guy. Don’t use cute phrases to cover your ass. Own it like a civilian has to.

    • I believe what we have here is a “negligent non-discharge” because it is unlikely this officer will lose his job over accidentally shooting himself.

  13. OK… so my .45 is an “Assault Weapon” but this Doctor’s .45 is a “Target Pistol”. Can anyone else see the double standard that goes with being “Well Credentialed”?

    All Hail the Aristocracy =>Sieg Heil!

  14. Next time somebody makes a comment about CO or NY sheriffs not enforcing laws, ask them why they’re not calling up the AG of localities like this to bring charges against negligent officers. Last I checked, laws against discharging a firearm in public don’t have cop carve-outs.

  15. ARRGH!
    ” the gun accidentally discharged.”

    Not, “The guy pulled the trigger” or even “the guy accidentally fired.” No. The gun is the subject of the verb. Like “the car went out of control.”

    Isn’t anybody responsible for ANYfrackingthing any more?

    • Typically “loaded” refers to a round in the chamber, I think. Although people often say “loaded with a round chambered,” but I always took that to be redundancy for clarity.

      • Maybe semantics, but I bet If I got pulled over by 5-0, and they found I had a pistol with a full magazine in it, I would be arrested for carrying a loaded gun, round chambered or not. (CA, no LTC, YMMV).

        • Yes, the CA definition of “loaded” very specifically DOES include a loaded magazine inserted into a semi-automatic pistol, whether there is one in the chamber or not. I believe it does not count as loaded in a bolt-action rifle (meaning bolt closed on an empty chamber but rounds in the magazine is not loaded, legally). I don’t remember RE semi-auto long guns. Revolver means a round at any location in the cylinder.

  16. I eat here occasionally and also happened to send a tip in. The place is small and jam packed every morning. There is about 4 feet in between the tables and counter, which is where the wait line is. You can’t pick your nose in this place without getting noticed, let alone play Dirty Harry.

  17. This raises one of my long standing questions…

    I moved from a may notify state to a shall notify state, if I notify and the officer asks to hang on to pistol for the duration of the stop is it acceptable to ask him if I can clear it first?

    I carry condition one, handing a gun to someone else in that condition is not a good idea….

    • Haha, you can ask. He’s going to look at you like you just grew a third arm out of your forehead. I’d be real surprised if you’d ever find an officer that was comfortable with you handling your gun directly in front of them.

      There’s really no easy answer. In a perfect world where people aren’t prideful (and guys especially so about their gun-handling skills), I think it’d be perfectly acceptable to ask the officer if they’re familiar with this type of weapon, to make sure they can clear it safely. A couple guys on here carry Makarovs, and I wouldn’t want to try to learn something like that on the fly. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that perfect world, and that question would probably only annoy the officer, who likely as not would get indignant that you could even conceive that he’d not be fully checked out on every gun in existence.

      • I carry a 1911. You’d be surprised how fast something as simple as a thumb safety can trip up a “gun guy” that’s only ever played with polymer.

        “Dude, your slide’s stuck….”

        • First time I ever picked up a 1911 style pistol, I was in a gun store. (It was a P238, though not the one I eventually bought.) Because the guy showing it to me didn’t clear the gun before handing it to me, I tried to rack the slide with the safety on. It didn’t work. I learned. Now it’s second nature.

        • I thought you *could* rack the slide of a P238 with the safety on. Not all 1911-style guns have a safety that indexes up into a notch on the slide to lock it in place, and I thought the P238 was like that. There is some merit to being able to chamber a round with the safety engaged, and that is why some designs specifically do not lock the slide via the safety.

        • The safety doesn’t block the slide on the P238, but it does block the hammer, in both directions. So if the hammer is already back, you can rack it with the safety on, but if it’s not, you cannot. The one in the case in my story was hammer down on an empty chamber, safety on. Thus, no rack.

  18. How often do American expats living abroad get together and hold American pride parades which include waving the US flag in the host countries?

  19. This is just a terrible sentence: “The officer who was injured frequently comes into the shop”

    Do newspapers not have editors anymore?

      • No, no, no. That’s just a spell checker. There’s no such thing as an “is this the right word” checker or an “are the words in the right order” checker.

        Yet. 😉

        <ramblngs>
        “The officer who was injured frequently comes into the shop.”
        “The officer, who was injured frequently, comes into the shop.”
        “The officer, who was injured, frequently comes into the shop.”

        If I’d edited it, I’d have changed it to, “The officer who was injured comes into the shop frequently.” or even “The officer who was injured was a frequent customer.” (Unless, of course, being injured frequently actually was his primary identifying characteristic.)

        Commas save lives:
        Let’s eat Grandma!
        Let’s eat, Grandma!

  20. Its like… just say stuff, just write stuff,… most of their audience (I can’t say readers) won’t notice. Shades of Idiocracy.

  21. “It wasn’t loaded but there was a magazine in it and when he cocked it a bullet moved into the chamber.”

    Well, was it loaded or not?!?! Accuracy, you numbnuts. If a bullet moved into the chamber, obviously it WAS loaded. Another misguided (intentionally or not) effort to accurately report the news.

    • Picky, picky, picky. It wasn’t loaded but he picked it up and cocked it putting a round in the chamber. Now it’s loaded.

      What’s wrong with that?

      If I were going to nitpick, I’d ask, did he get shot frequently, or frequently go into the joint? The item wasn’t written by a reporter, it was written by a beat cop?

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