Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Newtown, Pennsylvania
    (Bucks County)
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    Default Weapon Mounted Light -- a data point

    There's been some debate about whether there's risk of drawing a handgun, intending to actuate the WML, but having years of "draw and shoot" reps over-ride that intention.

    (Emphasis added)

    Gun-mounted flashlight blamed in fatal Plano police shooting

    11:17 AM CST on Friday, November 19, 2010

    By SCOTT GOLDSTEIN and MATTHEW HAAG / The Dallas Morning News;

    A Plano narcotics sergeant intended to activate a flashlight affixed to his service weapon when he accidentally pulled the trigger, fatally shooting a drug suspect in a Far North Dallas parking lot last month, the officer told investigators.

    "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."

    The sergeant's written statement was among more than 200 pages of documents released to The Dallas Morning News in response to a Public Information Act request. The documents pertain to the Dallas police criminal investigation of the shooting.

    A Collin County grand jury that was considering manslaughter charges took no action in the case against the sergeant earlier this month. The officer, who remains on administrative leave, is not being identified because he works undercover.

    Attorney Bob Gorsky is representing the Plano officer.

    "The incident is currently under administrative review by the Plano Police Department," Gorsky said in an e-mail. "We believe that upon completion of its investigation the police department will agree with the findings of the criminal investigation that this was an accidental discharge."

    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."

    A call to Surefire was not returned late Thursday. The company website describes it as having "the world's finest illumination tools and tactical products."

    Officer Rick McDonald, a Plano police spokesman, said the department does not believe there is a problem with the flashlight in question or the way it is activated.

    "We have researched them thoroughly," McDonald said. "Right now, we are standing by these lights."

    The X300 flashlights will be issued to patrol officers soon, McDonald said. Plano officers in the narcotics, intelligence and canine divisions have been using the X200 model or other pistol lights for years.

    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.

    The newer models have a brighter light and can illuminate a larger area. Most officers who use them leave them on the handguns all the time, McDonald said.

    "It doesn't take the place of a flashlight," he said. "You don't draw a weapon to use a flashlight."

    McDonald said that the department wasn't conducting an internal investigation into the "general use of flashlights."

    On the night of the shooting, undercover Plano police narcotics officers had arranged to meet with Alcala to buy black tar heroin from him, according to police documents.

    The undercover officers ultimately agreed to meet him at a Jack in the Box parking lot along the Dallas North Tollway near Frankford Road, where they planned to arrest him.

    Shortly before 11 p.m. Alcala, dressed in a red T-shirt, denim shorts and black and blue athletic shoes, walked toward an undercover officer's vehicle.

    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.

    He fired once. Alcala fell to the ground.

    "Did you shoot?" Someone asked, according to the officer.

    A chaotic scene then unfolded as the officers rushed to Alcala's aid, according to their statements. They applied pressure to the wound near his right collarbone and administered CPR.

    "Stay with me," an officer said.

    Alcala "gasped one long breath and Dallas Fire Department medics arrived and took over," an officer wrote. "The suspect was never conscious by my observations and did not say anything."

    Alcala was declared dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital at 11:34 p.m.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    (Philadelphia County)
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    Default Re: Weapon Mounted Light -- a data point

    Hmmm, definitely something to think about. Thanks for posting.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    New Britain Township, Pennsylvania
    (Bucks County)
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    Default Re: Weapon Mounted Light -- a data point

    Ive seen a flashlight/vertical grip that had a trigger-like switch, which made me nervous. I like lights that are thumb actuated, but that's just my preference.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Midwest City, Oklahoma
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    Default Re: Weapon Mounted Light -- a data point

    In the heat of a moment that could happen. That is why its best to simulate situations like that and practice starting the light pointing at the ground they raise it illumenate the suspect, with trigger finger outside the trigger guard.

    That was a sad unforntunate accident for all involved.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    (Philadelphia County)
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    Default Re: Weapon Mounted Light -- a data point

    Training, training, training. This is very unfortunate but preventable.

    Know your equipment, know your abilities, and know your limits as well.

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