Stress does funny things to people. You can run faster, jump higher, maybe even lift a car off a kid. Some people say things seem to slow down and it’s easier to process what’s going on. Not all of the things stress can do to you are good, though. For example, there’s that whole red mist thing. Tunnel vision, too. As a New York transit cop found out Tuesday night, the negative side effects of stress can also include involuntary muscular contractions . . .
We don’t mean one of those “if it persists for four hours call your doctor” things, either. We’re talking about trigger fingers. A couple of LEOs had just stopped Richard Pearson who’d taken off after committing a petty theft. We’ll let dailynews.com take it from there once they’d caught up with him:
“Police, don’t move. Get down,” the officers told Pearson.
Pearson — who earlier allegedly tried to snatch a cell phone from a woman nearby — tossed the wad of stolen cash and dropped facedown on the sidewalk, cops said.
But Pearson then tucked his hands under his body as the officers tried to cuff him.
That’s when one of the coppers moved to holster his gun while trying to control Pearson with the other.
But the Sig Sauer 9-mm. pistol went off, firing one round into Pearson’s right calf, cops and witnesses said.
“It happened like an accident, he tried to put the gun back and bang — it went off,” one witness said.
“I thought my finger was off the trigger,” the cop allegedly said after the accidental discharge.
And you know what? He may very well have had his finger off the trigger. Only not far enough.
Think it can’t happen to you? Greg Ellifritz posted a recent piece at activeresponsetraining.com on finger positioning and hand clenches that probably goes a long way toward explaining what happened to the hapless transit cop.
Many shooters hold their fingers this way (along the outside of the trigger guard) when not firing. They believe that since the finger is not on the trigger, an accidental discharge won’t occur. In general, they are correct. But most shooters don’t know that certain situations can cause an involuntary hand clenching. The tightening of the hand causes a contraction of all of the fingers with a force up to 30 lbs. (the Glock trigger pull weight is around 6 lbs.) and cannot be consciously controlled.
So the transit cop was probably right. He likely did have his finger off the SIG’s bangswitch. Until, that is, the perp resisted and he was forced to use his off hand to grab the dood and help his partner restrain him. When his gun hand naturally clenched, too, (Big Apple twelve pound trigger or not), well, you know.
To avoid this, Ellifritz points out that a trigger digit needs to be held up higher, lying along the side of the pistol’s frame. His Ayoob-ness agrees, but likes to see the finger curled rather then lying flat on the slide. (see pics at the Ellifritz link). Either technique probably would have avoided the hole suddenly appearing in Richard Pearson’s calf. All that takes training and practice, though, to develop the muscle memory to do it consistently and instinctively.
But to coin a phrase, it is what it is. While he can cite his central nervous system as an accomplice in the negligent discharge, the transit cop did fire his gun and Pearson will be limping his way to Rikers Island once he’s out of the hospital. All of which means he’s our IGOTD this lovely morning. And we hope that when he ultimately reads about the honor that’s been bestowed upon him, he clicks through and checks out Ellifitz’s words of wisdom.