The Denver Police Chief is promising extra training and a review on the use of new flashlight equipped guns after a series of cases where officers fired a round while trying to find the switch for the light. This accident-waiting-to-happen technology could spawn a series of lawsuits for both negligence in the officers the Department as well as product liability claims.
There have been at least two accidental shootings and five accidental discharges in the last year. In Texas, a man is dead and the confusion over the flashlight is suspected as the cause.
Denver is banning one design of the technology entirely while reviewing the devices generally after the shootings.
In the last week, two people have been injured in incidents involving the flashlight-equipped weapons. An example of such a gun is shown below.
Tactical flashlights are mounted on the weapons to shine the light where the gun is pointed. However, that also increases the likelihood that an accidental triggering will hit a suspect.
In one case in Plano Texas, Anthony Alcala, 25, was shot and killed by a narcotics officer trying to operate the flashlight while in New York, Jose Colon, 76, was shot in the stomach due to the same confusion.
Notably, SureFire LLC settled a lawsuit brought by the family of Alcala. The concern is that the technology was originally designed for Navy Seals who are far better trained in the use of such weapons.
SureFire could be looking at additional lawsuits. There are more than 100,000 handgun-mounted lights in circulation and, even with warnings, this could be viewed as a case of foreseeable misuse in a product liability case.
The confusion bears striking resemblance to the cases involving accidental shootings by officers thinking that they were holding a taser rather than their service weapon.
Source: Denver Post