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“I never intended to fire my weapon,” the sergeant said in a statement to Dallas police detectives following the Oct. 13 shooting of suspected drug dealer Michael Anthony Alcala, 25. “I never intended to have my finger on the trigger. I was only attempting to operate the flashlight mechanism.” And there you have it [via]: the importance of practicing with all potential weapons systems in all potential situations in all possible conditions—before adding new kit. The case is deeply reminiscent of that of BART cop Johannes Mehserle, who shot Oscar Grant while intending to Tase him. In both instances, police departments provided the officer in question with a new piece of equipement without retraining. In the Dallas incident . . .

The sergeant specifically blamed the placement of a light switch under the trigger guard on his .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol. He said he had in the past carried a “Surefire brand X200 flashlight with pressure switches on each side of the grip of the gun; however this summer the Plano Police Department issued me a Surefire brand X300 flashlight with the pressure switch under the trigger guard and no pressure switch on the grip.”

“This was the only light I was allowed to have affixed to my weapon,” the officer said. “I was attempting to squeeze the light mechanism when my weapon fired and the suspect fell to the ground.”

I have a sneaking suspicion that the suspect’s fall had something to do with the .40-caliber bullet aerating his body. But seriously, this sucks. Not only did the officer fail to train with the new light, he failed to train properly with “a” light.

The officer who shot him said he drew his weapon as they moved in to arrest Alcala because he was believed to be a felony suspect and the officer was not sure whether he was armed.

“In an effort to illuminate the suspect, while maintaining an armed position, I intended to activate the light on my pistol,” the officer wrote.

Why did the cop point his muzzle of his gun at the suspect if he was solely intent on lighting him up? Why didn’t he aim the gun down and use reflected light? Perhaps because he hadn’t read TTAG’s review of the M3 TI gun-mounted flashlight. In any case, the Texas po-po are not completely oblivious to the real location of the blame.

The patrol officers won’t be given the new lights until they go through training at the gun range. They won’t be issued until next year, and the lights aren’t mandatory, McDonald said.

McDonald said officers should attend training when they receive the new lights. It is unclear whether the officer in the shooting was put through any training when he received the new light.

Unclear? If this death wasn’t so tragic, that would be funny. Unfortunately, it was so it isn’t. Even though the victim was a drug dealer. Remember: it could have been a homeowner greeting the cops in the dark after a break in.

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  1. Should I advise my criminal clients to equip their illegally-possessed firearms with weapon lights, so we can try this defense in court? I don't think so.

    "I wasn't well-enough trained" might be a total defense (i.e., the DA won't file charges) if you're on the proper side of the Thin Blue Line, but for mere mortals it will only reduce a Murder charge to Manslaughter.


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