Austin PD learning how to handle a shotgun. In theory. (courtesy kxan.com)

Oops, I did it again. I played with a shotgun. And shot the squad car dead. To be fair, I think we can assume that this is Austin Police Officer Dustin Turner’s first negligent discharge. But it’s the third reported negligent discharge with a shotgun for the Austin Police Department in one month. You may recall that two – count ’em two – APD officers received a one-day suspension for firing their shotguns inside their patrol cars, earning themselves a place on TTAG’s illustrious IGOTD roster. Now comes word from kxan.com that officer Dustin did the same thing before his colleagues. So, in that sense, his was the first scatterbrained scattergun discharge. And guess what? “Over the last two years, city records showed similar incidents have happened eight times at APD, including the three in November.” And here’s a sentence I bet you can’t finish. “While it might look like an accident . . .

trainers say the officers followed procedure.

“Part of the procedure is to point the shotgun in a safe direction,” Peed said. “We have them aim it in the passenger seat of the patrol car so if there is an actually discharge it goes in the seat.”

[Click here for the news report containing more police prevarication, including the killer quote “A shotgun can be a complicated weapon to operate.\

Even so, the department recently added shotgun training to officers’ monthly skills refreshers, so officers stay informed.

Informed perhaps, but safe? I don’t think so. More than that, there’s something really wrong with the Austin Police Department’s hiring, training and disciplinary process. These negligent discharges are a symptom of poor procedures, not accidents. It’s only a matter of time before an innocent civilian pays the ultimate price for bureaucratic bravado.

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91 Responses to Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Austin Police Officer Dustin Turner

    • I’ve never witnessed, heard of, or read an account of an accidental shooting that did not involve a violation of at least one of the four rules of firearms. That’s why I don’t believe in the term “accidental discharge”, but rather “negligent discharge.”

    • Rule #1 Never put your finger on the trigger of any firearm unless you are ready to engage your target…not hard to remember. These LEOs should be given desk duty until they can be trusted with a firearm again.

      • Happy birthday to Shirley Bassey (“Goldfinger”), 79. And Yvette Mimieux. And the late Soupy Sales.

  1. I’d rather they teach cops to read the constitution weekly and that it is their sworn duty, and part of “upholding” the law to refuse to enforce unconstitutional laws.

    • Let’s face facts, shall we?

      We both know a shotgun isn’t exactly rocket surgery. You or I could teach a child of 10 how to safely operate a shotgun in a couple hours. Training them how to break 25 clays in a row on a range is a whole ‘nuther issue. Training them how to not shoot themselves, someone else, or have a ND… that’s not too difficult. Been there, done that.

      But these people can’t seem to give the subject of gun handling the scant attention that it deserves. If these cops can’t do that, then what chance do they have of absorbing the knowledge that went into the Constitution? Would you expect an instructor to help the student cops sound out the big words they find in the Federalist Papers?

  2. If law enforcement can’t handle shotguns why are we supposed
    to trust them with “military-grade” weapons? Wait, I remember
    now, it’s the superior training.

  3. Does the remainder of their procedure then have them place their finger on the trigger and then pull it???

    If the gun is in your hands, you’re always pointing it at something…yet in the years that I’ve been shooting, I’ve still managed to not perforate something I didn’t intend to.

    • Three in a row from the same department smells a lot like bad training.

      They are all doing it the same way – and whatever way they are being trained to do it has a flaw.

      Once is an accident.
      Twice is a coincidence.
      Three times is…………

      • In quality control there’s a concept of distinguishing between ‘random’ and ‘systemic’ errors. Random occurs once in a great while, due to unusual circumstances and may not require adjustment. That is, somebody did something unusual that the process normally prevents. Systemic errors are those which keep occurring meaning the system/process is flawed and needs to be adjusted/fixed.

  4. Unbelievable that anyone would still have a job as a police officer after doing that once.

    I think this is great material to criticize Chief Acevedo for in the next campaign. If I didn’t dislike cops so much, I might even run myself.

    • APD Chief of Police is an appointed, not elected, position. I think that’s true of most (if not all) big-city police departments. This fact accounts for quite a bit of the disparity between the way many city police chiefs do their jobs, as compared to elected county Sheriffs, who actually have to have the approval of the citizens they serve in order to keep the paychecks coming.

    • Negligent discharges happen because people are not perfect. That’s why the Four Rules are redundant – even a negligent discharge can be harmless. Yes, this dept has had too many, but it may be a bit much to scuttle an individual’s entire career from a keyboard, especially when it seems like this is a departmental issue, and not an individual one.

    • It is next to impossible to get fired by the Austin PD. I don’t like Acevado in the least, but he has at least attempted to fire some bad apples. The problem is that the arbitrator who handles the Austin PD and FD cases has yet to see a justification to fire someone. There’s an Austin Firefighter with two DUIs who still has a job. There’s a Firefighter who was high on duty who still has a job. There are cops with mutliple DUIs and domestic abuse convictions who still have jobs. About the only way to get fired is to use a racial, sexual orientation, or gender based term of derision, or use excessive force more than a few times.

      • When I lived in Taos, the Chief of Police left *3* weapons (including an AR [WTF? An AR in TAOS?]) over one Christmas, when he somehow took several days off (the COP – SEVERAL days off?), and someone stole all three. He wasn’t fired, and as far as I know, they were never recovered.

        Knowing the force, it was probably an “inside job”.

  5. These guys would have trouble learning the manual of arms on an AK. Something illiterate peasants have been mastering for 50+ years.

    In stead of the IGOTD for cops I propose the Barney Fife award. Duty weapons replaced with a revolver and 1 bullet in the shirt pocket.

    • isnt it funny how poor peasants can learn how to shoot one of those and they dont even have an education and probably never used a firearm before in thier life but people who more than likely grew up around them and are professionally trained cant!? haha

      • Don’t take this as a defense of the guys in the story, because it’s not. Just think for a moment, though, how many AD/NDs there must have been over the years since the AK went into service. The number is probably enormous. Nobody reports it, though, because it’s all illiterate foreign peasants who don’t have access to western media.

        A guy in my old unit was once on a foot patrol, joint operation between his old unit and some Iraqi Army guys, and he said at one point one of the IA men torched off an RPG down the middle of the street because he tripped and fell. He said this kind of thing happened all the time with small arms, too.

        I do expect higher standards around here, though.

    • If they can’t master a shotgun, what makes you think they could ever learn a revolver? Take all their guns away and give em rape whistles until they can prove they are responsible to move back to deadly weapons.

      Embarrasing, no more than they have already done to themselves.

  6. “The shotgun er-a… can be a complicated weapon to operate.” πŸ˜‰

    Sure, if you’re an Austin cop.

  7. And were supposed to trust these police officers with our lives!!, I already thought that was a joke now I know i cant for shure. I have been handling and shooting fire arms, from muzzloaders all the way up to belt fed machine guns since i was a young kid and have never had one mishap and have many many friends who also shoot and handle firearms on a regular basis and have never had one of them have any mishaps either let alone one like this and with three officers who have been “professionally” trained!! haha what a joke.. glad my tax dollars get wasted to train these dumbasses how to use such a complicated weapon that i fully understood how to use properly since i was about ten years old. Makes me wonder how much trust we can put into our swat teams… hope the sniper is atleast smart enough to figure out how to use the very complicated mill dot scope from 100 yards!!

  8. Now here is a serious question. Should we point to the Austin Police Department when gun grabbers claim that only the police can have firearms because of their supposed “superior training”? On the one hand these events show that the police, at least in Austin, have very poor training and therefore many if not most citizens actually have superior training. On the other hand the gun grabbers could further claim that, if the Austin police had this many negligent discharges in spite of their “superior training”, then there is no way in Hell that we could ever trust citizens with no training … because they would shoot up everything.

    Nah. I am not going to debate relative training with a gun grabber. I am going to tell them that it is obscene on its face that they or anyone else dictate what physical property I can acquire and/or possess.

  9. I would say a good portion of the issue with the Austin PD is poor leadership and a selection process that values diversity and equality more than competence. That shows every time I read Pravda….I mean the Austin American Statesman.

  10. I first used a shotgun at eight, after a two hour class on weapons safety. I didn’t hold it quite right and hurt my shoulder on the first shot, missing the clay. I didn’t miss again for a year. I sure as hell never had an ND. I can appreciate that no one is above making a mistake, over a lifetime, but a shotgun is probably the most simple firearm. Own up to your mistakes jackasses. Keep your booger finger off the bang switch.

  11. When cops do it, it’s an ‘accidental discharge’ according to the media, and for the rest of us, we know it’s negligence. Nice being held to a higher standard.

  12. If they can’t be trusted with something as simple as a pump shotgun, how in the world are they driving cars? Driving is much more complicated than using a pumpgun.

  13. This is another dept that is run by liberal politicians who dont give two shits about firearms training. If they had their way the Austin PD would be carrying flashlights and whistles… but then again maybe the citizens of Austin would be safer that way.

  14. You want to know the real reason cops have NDs? It’s two things, really.

    First, departments hire guys who don’t love guns. We’re all here on this site because guns are at the very least a cherished hobby, or more likely for those who post comments, a way of life. We actually take the time to train, maintain our equipment, and pay attention. Sometimes, we still screw up, but it’s far less often than it could be.

    You hire a bunch of people who want to do stuff besides shooting, and you get a bunch of people who don’t take the time to train, maintain their equipment, or pay attention. Now, from the point of view of the POTG, who understand that defending yourself and your loved ones has nothing to do with a uniform, this is ridiculous- but most officers will go their whole career without getting into a gunfight, so if they weren’t already one of us, handing them a gun won’t cause some kind of divine revelation.

    Second, and especially bad for non-gun people, you do the same routine every day for a few years (without caring that much, see the first point), you get complacent. In the Army, you’re supposed to do a detailed check of your vehicle every day before using it, and another check afterwards. There are multiple pages in the technical manual for each vehicle that show exactly what to check.

    Nobody that I’ve ever met did this according to the manual. Certainly, nobody I’ve ever met does even an abbreviated version daily with their personal cars. This is because we’re complacent, and we don’t care that much. Why should we? The chances it will cost us our lives are close to zero. Now, any decent racing driver or pilot would do a detailed check of their vehicle before a race or a flight. This is because they care, just like we care with our guns, and they understand it could cost lives if they do it wrong.

    Not defending the guys in the story, by any means. I think departments should hire gun people whenever possible. If they did, we might not see this kind of thing as often as we do.

    • They aren’t supposed to have a negligent discharge because they aren’t supposed to have a round in the chamber. The shotgun is a backup patrol weapon.

    • Hasdrubal, unfortunately you speak the truth. A lot of soldiers and cops I’ve met over the years are not gun people. They learn just enough to keep them up on their department issues.

      And we do need cops and soldiers. Like you I wish that an interest in the shooting sports were more of a job requirement. At least for the cops.

      What I don’t like are double standards. A citizen should have the right to carry in the same fashion and the same level of gear as a cop. And If a citizen would face punishment for an AD/ND a cop should face the same level of punishment.

      • Agreed on the double standards, but here’s my take on that. Personal opinion, worth what you paid for it.

        An ND should not automatically be grounds for criminal prosecution. Not for police, not for anyone else. If the circumstances of the ND show some kind of specific danger to human life, then prosecution may be considered. Meaning, if you ND into the floor of your house, or your car, or the wall of an indoor range, you should not automatically be prosecuted. Do it in a public place where there are people around, or the bullet goes through your wall and hits your neighbor’s house, that’s a different story.

        Going back to the car analogy that doesn’t always work for guns but sometimes does, if you crash your car it’s ususally some kind of negligence. Either you didn’t pay attention to give yourself the time to avoid hitting something, or you went so fast you didn’t have time, or you didn’t change your driving to account for weather, or someone else showed that kind of negligence and hit you. People are only criminally prosecuted when there is something above and beyond the normal level of screwup in a car crash. Depending on the state, of course, but in WA we have reckless driving, or if alcohol is involved vehicular assault or vehicular homicide.

        With that in mind, I would say the first ND for a cop without criminal circumstances should be a month on desk duty to include going through the entire introductory firearms instruction for new recruits, not authorized to carry on department authority until this is complete. The second might be termination. For non police, without criminal circumstances should be no action at all unless your homeowners insurance company finds out, and then that would be a civil matter.

      • I guess my first reply didn’t make it. This is only my opinion, worth what you paid for it.

        I agree that double standards are bad. I think an ND should not automatically be grounds for prosecution, police or not. If there are no specific circumstances where people were placed in danger, like if you shoot the floor of your house, your car, or the wall at an indoor range, why should it be a criminal act?

        If you crash your car, there is usually some amount of negligence involved, either on your part or by the person who hit you. In every place I’ve heard of, you don’t automatically get prosecuted unless there’s something to show you placed people in danger above and beyond a normal car crash. DUI, reckless driving, etc.

        For police NDs not rising to the criminal level, I would like to see a month working a desk for a first offense, not being allowed to carry a gun on the authority of the department. During that month you would repeat the entire course of firearm instruction given to a new recruit. Second time, probably termination.

        For everyone else, if it doesn’t rise to the criminal level, the only thing you should have to worry about would be explaining it to your homeowner’s insurance people.

  15. I don’t understand why no one has asked the obvious question: are Austin police officers carrying guns with ammo in the chamber? Unless you’re in the middle of a firefight, or walking into one, you don’t do that. You fill up the magazine with its capacity of shells, AND THEN YOU DOUBLE-CHECK TO MAKE SURE THERE’S NOT ONE CHAMBERED (which it wouldn’t have been anyway). And when you do chamber a round as you enter a risky situation, when it is over, before you get back in the car, you clear the chamber — every time. ………. If you do this, then there can be no “accident”, and if course you don’t point the gun at anyone unintentionally. Why are my gun safety standards do much higher than the Austin police? ….. A follow-up question: what were the extenuating circumstances cited in these cases? We’re the officers in hot pursuit getting back into their car still needing to be ready to shoot? Details, please. This is as much a part of journalism as safety is to guns.

    • Sorry, I carry with a rd chambered, hammer up and safety on, have done so for 30 odd years now. If you are carrying a weapon that is unsafe to carry loaded you need to change weapon.

      • Then you carry an accident waiting to happen, 2hotel9. Pumping a shotgun once is quick and a clear sign to anyone around that you’re prepared to shoot. Ditto for other mechanisms for changing a round. When I carry, I have to occasional check the position of the safety. I do this even more carefully when handing the weapon to someone else. There is always the chance for a mistake. Changing a round has an entirely different feel to it and cannot be forgotten.

        A question, were you actually taught that carrying a round in the chamber, safety on, and hammer up was safe? Or is this just your own “bright idea”?

        • If that is what you want to believe then go for it. And feel free to tell us how that hopeychangemas and free healthcare are working out for you.

        • How I was trained. First pistol trained on was Colt New Service, second was Colt 1911, third was Walther P 1/38. Perhaps you should check and see what they all have in common. My training was given by a career Marine retiree, served in Pacific, Korea and Vietnam, he also taught me rifle and shotgun and automatic weapons, Thompson M1a1, M3 greasegun, BAR, M16 and FN FAL. In the 41 years since then I have never, not once, ever had a weapon in my possession “accidentally” discharge. Period. Full stop.

          Unless a weapon is damaged it does not “accidentally” fire. It is ALWAYS the operator banging off a rd because they screwed up.

  16. And these are the trained professionals, the experts in the art and science that is firearms proficiency, who merit carve outs from every RKBA infringement? Oh that’s rich!

  17. The APD obviously hasn’t trained their officers properly on these shotguns. If there were 3 “reported” NDs, odds are there were several more unreported. “Trainers say the officers followed procedure”- if they followed procedure they wouldn’t be having NDs, now would they? But only LEOs and the military should have access to firearms.

    • You should read it again. They didn’t have negligent discharges: they had “accidental” discharges!

  18. Are they still cops? Because I would think that after firing a shotgun inside a car they’d be deaf (sorry, I mean hearing impaired).

  19. LEO’s have a departmental responsibility to fulfill their quota of city revenue enhancement, one simply cannot expect them to safely handle a firearm as well

  20. The main problem with a pump in a vertical rack is that you have to lock the action on an empty chamber to keep the forearm from rattling open the action as you bump down the road. If you allow that sooner or later the round on the lifter falls out making a more complicated mess.

    So if you have the action locked on an empty chamber, you have to unlock the action before chambering a round . that is done one of two ways: unlock the action with thef action release or pull the trigger.

    After unloading the magazine tube you have to open the action check it, account for the round on the lifter and then turn in the weapon in its required state (usually hammer down)

    After a long shift its easy to think the chamber is empty and pull the trigger instead of going through the steps to clear the chamber.

    Course the dumbest thing i have been exposed to is wondering if the SG is cocked so just reach over and pull the trigger while its racked . instant roof ventilation.

    If you want some interesting reading , read Portland Police Bureau reports on a recent Officer Termination.

    • Thanks for the details, Dave. The article was missing them.

      It seems to me that if the car-mounting assembly doesn’t work correctly with a shotgun with no round chambered, then the mounting assembly is poorly designed. Wouldn’t it be trivial to resign it so that the gun wouldn’t fall open with no round chambered? Or the whole gun could be mounted pointing down removing the incentive for unsafe use as well, no?

  21. Wow. Austin. I never felt it was a place to go before and I damned sure ain’t a heading there now.

    I was shooting with a friend who is PA State Trooper and he was telling us of the rise in “weapons mishaps” in the many small municipal police departments during the last few years here in PA, so it is not just something in the water in Autism, Texas. And yes, got family in that 1/2 of Tejas and that is what they call it.

    • It really does seem widespread, nearly ubiquitous. I’m at a loss to explain it, and if anyone has an explanation, I’d love to hear it. I wonder if it’s somehow tied to the rise of police militarism?

      • I think it is more tied to a lack of seriousness in people’s attitudes concerning many things, not just firearms. Come down to it an increase in “militarism” would actually denote an increase in discipline, which I just don’t see. The trappings of militarism I see, the pressed BDUs, the tacticool gear, the unearned sense of superiority over the people they are supposed to serve. Oh yea, I see that sh*t. I also see cops acting like soldiers. Not many, need more.

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