Reason for Bainbridge Island, WA Officer’s Rifle Firing in Casino Remains a Mystery


Here’s a typical lede to a type of story we’ve read dozens of times before: “Investigators are trying to determine why a Bainbridge Island police officer’s rifle inadvertently fired last month inside the Clearwater Casino while he was hurrying to an emergency backup call.”

Well, we have a pretty good idea why “the rifle fired.”

(Chief Matt) Hamner described the rifle as an AR-style semi-automatic rifle. The Washington State Patrol Crime Lab inspected the gun and could find no evidence of something wrong with it, Hamner said. Now it is being analyzed by the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, which is conducting the investigation. Hamner said he wanted an outside agency to review the incident.

Oh, definitely. In fact, Hamner (above, left) should also send it to the FBI lab in D.C. when the locals are finished with it. Surely they’ll be able to figure out how this crazy AR just decided to fire itself as the un-named officer was carrying it. In a hurry. On an emergency backup call.

“I want to get to the bottom of this and regardless of the findings the weapon will not be used again,” Hamner said, adding that in light of the inadvertent discharge the department planned a review of policies and procedures. “This is very disconcerting to me.”

That seems prudent given the circumstances. Any firearm with a mind of its own simply can’t be trusted in a duty situation. The Bainbridge Island PD really should melt this one down to ensure that it never does anything like that again.

It may seem strange the Kitsap Sun’s Andrew Binion doesn’t even mention the possibility that the officer — in a high stress, adrenaline-fueled situation — might have had his finger on trigger as he was hurrying to help a fellow officer. You’re probably thinking that, rather than a malfunctioning rifle, this was a “simple” case of a negligent discharge.

But cut the reporter a break. He was no doubt assure by Chief Hamner that the un-named officer’s finger was indexed and nowhere near the trigger when the rifle put a round into the Casino floor. And like most reporters, he doesn’t know enough about firearms to realize when someone is peeing on his leg and telling him it’s raining.

The officer was not placed on administrative leave, Hamner said, because no misconduct was alleged.

“I want to know what the cause is so we can make sure it never happens again,” he said.

As do we all.


  1. avatar ROFuher says:

    Thin blue line at work.
    The real mystery is why so much effort is expended to ‘splain it away, rather than an internal sanction, retraining and reminding the whole department it’s a strike for everyone, not just Adam Asshat.

    1. avatar Gator says:

      I’m sure that’s happened internally. But the external needs to be spun properly. Gots to keep the green river of money flowing in the proper direction.

    2. avatar Red says:

      How about an arrest for discharging a firearm and/or endangering other people? I feel sure there are laws there they could charge him with.

      Oh, wait, it’s an officer. They are above the law. Now, imagine if Joe Public did such a thing. Would they send the firearm off? I get more disgusted with the police every day. They are the biggest bunch of self-serving hypocrites one can find.

    3. avatar binder says:

      How about training. I have seen both military LEOs and civilian. The difference in the “gun handling” culture is amazing.

  2. avatar John in AK says:

    The reason for this is simple: The rifle decided to go from semi-automatic to fully semi-automatic.
    They DO that.
    You see, they have gas-assisted receivers, and when atmospheric pressure changes when you go into a building from outside, the difference in pressure and temperature causes the gas to expand, and the rifle just goes fully-semi-automatic all by itself. Happens all the time.
    No, really.
    Now I’ll ‘splain how pistol grips are for spraying bullets wildly from the hip.

    1. avatar CZJay says:

      That department needs smart guns to make sure dumb cops don’t shoot a bunch of innocent kids. Maybe we can also program the guns to stop white cops from shooting black people. Or how about we just move towards automation by replacing every human cop with a robot cop?

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        I swear, ‘Boston Robotics’ is really ‘Cyberdyne Systems’…

        You want proof? How about a standing backflip?

        1. avatar Mr Lizard says:

          No wonder they don’t want us to have .308 AP rounds

      2. avatar anonymoose says:

        Getting some air, ED-209?

  3. avatar surlycmd says:

    I simply do not have the words to adequately describe my thoughts on this subject.

  4. avatar DesertDave says:

    Casinos are generally well covered by video. Should be and easy thing to pull the security tapes and note if anyone had their finger on the trigger when they should not have. But this seems like a CYA situation so that will likely not happen.

    1. avatar Nigel the expat says:

      Carnac the Magnificent says:

      “Safety off, booger hook on the bang switch, trotting with rifle in one hand”

  5. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    But, but, everybody knows that guns just “go off” all the time which is why they’re so dangerous. If they can just go off in the hands of a trained police officer it just seems obvious that they’re that much more dangerous in the hands of average citizens who aren’t trained like police officers. This is another example of why we need to get guns out of the hands of private citizens. //sarc//

    It may be just me, but every time I see cops in these kinds of posed photos they always look like loons . . .

    1. avatar john y says:

      My guess is there are not any intelligence or fitness requirements. Back when I was still young enough to join there were, but then there was a height requirement (5ft10in) also. I was too short by 4″.

      1. avatar Huntmaster says:

        They did away with those requirements when they decided to put the girls on the forces. The height requirements weren’t discriminatory against men, just women. After women were placed on police forces around the country the whole philosophy on the use of deadly force changed also. Cops became much quicker to go to the gun. Why are cops shooting people so much today??? You can’t have one set of expectations for the women and another for the guys.

    2. avatar Ing says:

      Yep, those evil assault weapons are only good for one thing: killing mass amounts of people. So of course the police should have them. After all, they’ll be needed when it’s time to get rid of those of us who are too stubborn to accept the collective insanity.

  6. avatar GS650G says:

    Bet they don’t let him play with black rifles again

    1. avatar CZJay says:

      Seeing how low quality government is, they’re probably thinking about giving him a full auto as a reward.

  7. avatar former water walker says:

    Like I see in many “explanations” of little kids shooting a gun they “found” it just WENT OFF…😧😖😏

  8. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    It’s a casino. Not like there’s a camera in there.

  9. avatar Sidro says:


  10. avatar Phil Wilson says:

    The rifle could have malfunctioned. Highly improbable. But possible.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “The rifle could have malfunctioned. Highly improbable. But possible.”

      It was an AR, not a Rem.700..

    2. avatar tickTalk says:

      Well I have had a rifle just ‘go off’. It was a single shot 45-70.
      Took aim, cocked hammer, half second later, before I had even moved finger to trigger, boom.
      tore it apart.. bits of sear and hammer fell out. I was most unhappy.
      Had a flinter do that once too. snapped out of halfcock during pan priming.. Whoosh into my face, lucky my priming horn didn’t go off in my hand..

  11. avatar CZJay says:


    The cop be trolling and the journalist be getting trolled.

  12. avatar TweetyRex says:

    If the officer messed up, his career would be over. Someone the department spent thousands to tens of thousands of dollars to train and equip would be gone. And whoever trained him would also look bad. On the other hand, if the gun malfunctioned, they scrap it and they’re out 500 bucks. Now really, what do you think they’re going to do?

  13. avatar Sian says:

    With its free-floating firing pin, it’s *possible* a jarring impact to the muzzle or butt could cause the pin to strike the primer in a chambered round. due to the light weight of the firing pin this would require a significant impact and the number of times this has been known to happen is vanishingly small. Now if this had happened, it should be clear from the camera footage.

    Are Bainbridge police required to keep their rifles cruiser safe?

  14. avatar tomas says:

    Those pathetic cops cover for each other yet would gladly arrest you or anyone else without a badge for a ND in an instant.

    1. avatar Srirachapocalypse says:

      Yup, do as I say, not as I do. Same type of situation with DUIs in most jurisdictions.

  15. avatar TheOtherDavid says:

    I live near there, that police department actually uses our range for its AR training. I read the original article in the local paper and the officer said that the safety was on and his finger was nowhere near the trigger when it went off

    Uh huh …

    Everyone knows what happened. The chief needs to make a statement about the officer admitting to being responsible for the negligent discharge, he has a civil service job there, he won’t lose his position. Maybe administrative leave, certainly mandatory re-training for all officers on the department. But admit what happened and move on. Otherwise, it makes every semi automatic rifle look like a machine gun just waiting to spray the crowd.

    1. avatar Huntmaster says:

      Not to anybody who isn’t a total idiot. Those people know what happened. They also know everyone involved is a liar. Chief, if you are reading this, it’s not to late to save your credibility and your reputation. That window won’t stay open forever. There’s shelf life on this.

      1. avatar TheOtherDavid says:

        The comment section of one of the local newspapers is lighting up on this one, lots of people in that part of the county own an AR and they are all calling BS on this

        The back story on this is a bit unclear, apparently two officers were breaking up some sort of fight inside the casino, where radio communication is compromised. Witnesses to the fight were calling 911, saying that the officers were going to need more help with the fight. This officer was responding to that call for help, and per the description, not knowing what he may be facing inside, prepared for the worst and brought a rifle

  16. avatar anonymoose says:

    “This is my safety, sir.”

  17. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    They should cut it up and buy this one.

    It’s never done anything but rest there.

  18. avatar sound awake says:

    most cops i know…

    arent what i would call “gun guys”

    i ask them simple questions like:

    “what model sig is that”

    and they say:

    “not sure but all i know is its a 40”

    and then i say something like:

    “whats the magazine capacity on that”

    and then they say something like:

    “not sure i think it only holds like 12 or 13 bullets maybe but its ok because my department lets us carry as many clips as we want”

    so im not sayin this guy definitely had an AD but i wouldnt bet against it either

    if its his only mess up put him back on the street

    but the next time it happens he rides a desk until retirement and make sure he knows it

  19. avatar rt66paul says:

    Any LEO that lies on a report should be fired. No ifs, ands, or buts. We can not afford to have CYA parties. Admit it, go to your re-training, go direct traffic, whatever. You should have to earn your way back to where you were.

    Fire him and make policy.

  20. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    This is one of tham thar smart guns. It takes a sixth grade education to run one of theeese.

  21. avatar Anon says:

    Few years ago they had 19 positions, so no larger than 4 or 5 guys per shift.

    So the CHIEF has 3 stars, like a 3 star general. One more guy and he can put 4 stars on!

    I bet they don’t know about where your finger goes and when.

    Probably practice 10 rounds per year.

    If a civilian had done that, they would lose their guns, any licenses and their name would be plastered all over tv and newspapers.

    And you cops wonder why we don’t respect you?

  22. avatar Ralph says:

    Give the cop a break — the gun made a furtive movement and the cop was in fear for his life, m’kay? And it was just a coincidence that the rifle was black.

    1. avatar tickTalk says:

      That’s why the wife’s AR-556 is pink and purple. Makes it less scary to muggles.

      1. avatar tickTalk says:

        I have been forcefully informed it is not purple. it is lavender.

  23. avatar Ragnarredbeard says:

    I would be glad to take the AR-15 off the department’s hands. I think I could rehabilitate and turn it into a model citizen.

  24. avatar Gun Owning American says:

    This is why barney needs to keep his bullet in his pocket where it belongs.

  25. avatar Wally1 says:

    This dumb fuck should just man up and admit he fucked up! Most LEO are under trained in fire arms, this is their own fault. This coming from a retired LEO. I show up for retired officers qualification range days and usually outshoot all the active duty LEO in attendance. Pathetic, really pathetic!

  26. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

    1. Return All local/city/state police departments, nationwide to original community policing and upholding our U.S. Constitutional-Bill old Rights. As well as returning THEM to proper police a tire *(Traditional dress pants, shirt, tie, 👞 shoes,etc. ) Plus traditional accessories, such as; a Traditional 6-7 shot revolvers, lever-action rifle/carbines, and Mossberg , or Remington 870…All normal traditional police gear…For shot to shot accountability and general marksmanship…No more carve-outs, No more Paramilitarized police Commandos with the attitude and the politics to boot…

  27. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

    2. *(CRBs)* Full Independent Civilian Review Boards for all Rank and file LEOs Nationwide…For Accountability and to uphold our US Constitutional principles…No police carve-outs, political protectionism, or Unions….For The People, by the PEOPLE….

  28. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

    3. Legislative effort to BAN all Police Unions/Brotherhoods/Associations/Guides/ Organizations, etc…For all Rank and file LEOs…No police Carve-outs, No Political Protectionism, No Unions—Period!!!

  29. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

    4. Make it a “Capital Crime” for any Government agency or Agent…Including all local /city/state police…To deliberately Infringe upon a Lawful U.S. Citizen from exercising THEIR 2nd Amendment Rights to keep and Bear arms for the common Defense. Also, This would apply to all Amendments exercised by the We the People…Anything else is just an infringement…For any event of infringement…Fines, imprisonment, and NOT LESS THAN $250k in Compensatory Dispensation for each incident of infringement….

  30. avatar Aaron says:

    Geez, the cops must be buying defective guns in bulk. How come cops’ guns are always “going off” on their own, at “no fault” of the cops??

  31. avatar Ryan L. Weingart says:

    Make a bet that chambered round was left chambered for years and that is always racked in and placed back into the first round of the mag. Eventually the primer was so fatigued that the simple pressure of the firing pin as he was running around had simply set it to fire. Happens often enough. You should always cycle the round that is chambered in your Carry piece two men stacking magazine rather than consistently putting it to chamber. It’s Elementary.

  32. avatar David Keith says:

    The head cop’s b.s. about getting to the bottom of this and never using this rifle again regardless of the results of tests is really playing to the idiots in the cheap seats.

  33. avatar Alan says:

    How did the officers rifle “discharge” as in how did it manage to fire. Let’s start at the beginning.

    1. The officer was carrying this rifle, why was he so armed in the first place, with a round in the chamber.
    2. The rifle’s safety was not engaged.
    3. The officer, for some reason, pulled the trigger, leading to the rifle functioning as it was designed to.

    Any more questions should be addressed to appropriate officials.

  34. avatar Mike Betts says:

    As a retired LEO and long-time “gun guy”, I’m extremely doubtful of the officer’s version of events. By all means, give him the benefit of the doubt and test the AR by anyone and everyone who could possibly find it defective – but if it isn’t, the officer needs to be dismissed. Not for the ND; it only takes a millisecond of absent-mindedness or excitement to make a mistake like that. Dismiss him for lying about the incident. I saw cops screw up in every way possible while I was on the job but as long as they “manned up” they usually kept their jobs, though maybe at a lower rank or otherwise considerably lighter in the wallet. Those who were caught lying about an incident were gone just as soon as the trial board met.

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