Whatever the disease the LAPD has, it’s apparently spreading. A Baldwin Borough, PA police officer blew off all rules of gun safety and popped two rounds into the back of his own partner. The sound of the discharge so frightened a third officer, who was also blowing off the safety rules, that he ND’d a round in a random direction, too. That one fortunately lodged in inanimate stuff, but not because the triggerman was doing his job.
Miller could see a woman holding a child in the house and wanted to speak with her when the man began shutting the door, Scott said. The second Baldwin officer put his foot in the door, and Miller put his shoulder into the door to try to force it open wider, Scott said.
The second officer fired two shots with his patrol rifle, striking Miller between the bottom of his bulletproof vest and his belt. It’s unclear whether Miller was hit once or twice. Police could not find the second slug from the officer’s gun, Moffatt said.
Neither Moffatt nor Scott could say why the officer fired.
“That’s what we’re still trying to sort out,” Moffatt said.
Police sent the rifle to the Allegheny County Crime Lab for analysis and to check for a possible mechanical problem, Scott said.
Scott said he doesn’t know whether the second officer realizes how or why the shooting happened.
“That’s why they want to take a look at the weapon,” he said.
When Miller fell, a third Baldwin officer fired a shot and hit the house, Moffatt said. Police did not release that officer’s name.
The two who fired their weapons have been placed on administrative leave, and the department has brought in grief counselors.
No one else was wounded, and no charges have been filed as county police investigate, Moffatt said. Police said the man’s shotgun was thrown out the window of the home.
No word on whether the Baldwin PD will seek professional training, for what would obviously be the first time.
If you’re not actively engaging, the absolute lowest baseline of firearms discipline is:
- finger off the bang switch
- safety on
- muzzle in a safe direction.
It should go without saying that you also never flag your partner and know what state your weapon is in. Neither of these reckless cops paid any attention to any of those basic safety rules, and as a result poor Sgt. Ralph Miller has suffered painful and potentially crippling injuries. It’s a damned lucky thing he wasn’t killed.
So, don’t leave out your back plate just because you plan to keep the front one towards the offender… you never know who’s behind you. (Not that the armor did Miller a lick of good, as the carbine rounds entered his back below his vest).
It’s a bit reminiscent of the grossly negligent ND the Framingham, MA PD had a while back. (Note: that link is to a pretty tendentious site, but it does aggregate the local media coverage of a very bad incident). A jumpy cop was attempting to cuff a bystander, while he had his hand on his M4’s grip, finger on the trigger, and safety off. The cop lost his balance and blew the bystander away… he turned out to be a completely innocent man who had the bad fortune to be in the same house where the suspect lived.
Framingham policy was: at any time the rifles are in hand, to be “fangs out” — finger on the trigger, safety off. This is grossly irresponsible. They have since encouraged the officers to start using the safety but they are still allowed to interact with the public with fingers on triggers. The officer who fired the negligent shot got three months of paid vacation and returned to duty. Perhaps he won’t be the Framingham officer who fires the next negligent discharge, because the problems go beyond one careless cop.
If you have bad trigger discipline, you’re going to have negligent discharges. If you’ve had bad training, you’ve probably got bad trigger discipline.
We do not like writing about incompetent cops. There are too many of them to ignore, though.