Cop shoots off finger, sues gun store

Glasgow, Kentucky: “A former Glasgow police officer is suing a Barren County gun store after being handed a loaded gun from under the counter and accidentally shooting his finger off.” [WBKO]

21 Comments

  • Seems like KY is a pure comparative negligence state so he should receive something. Handing over a loaded weapon seems to be textbook negligence. I wonder if juries in pure comparative negligence states sometimes protest by awarding plaintiffs nothing even where there undoubtedly was negligence on the other side. Sort of the flip of how juries would find no negligence on behalf of plaintiffs back in the days of contributory negligence so there could be some recovery.

  • Agreed. There is absolutely no reason for a firearm on display to be loaded. Yes the police officer should have been more careful, as someone who should have a good deal of experience with firearms, but keeping a loaded gun in a case is completely irresponsible.

  • Technically, the gun itself was not loaded until the officer operated the slide thereby placing a bullet into the firing chamber. And contrary to the underlying article the gun did not simply “go off”. The gun went “off” only after the officer pulled the trigger. So let’s review: a police officer walks into a gun store, takes possession of a semi-automatic pistol, chambers a live round by pulling and releasing the slide and then pulls the trigger and it’s the store’s fault that he lost a finger?

  • Why did he lose his job as a police officer? Wasn’t there some work he could do as a police officer without a finger?
    Is there no ADA in KY?

  • Gun safety rule #1. Always assume a gun is loaded unless you have checked it yourself. If it has been out of your possession since you checked it last, you need to check it again.

  • I have to concur w/ Mr. McCormick…if the weapon didn’t have a round chambered, but did have a magazine inserted, it’s in “amber” mode according to the U.S. military, and not ready to fire…

    FIRST thing we were taught about firearms was “assume it’s loaded until you know otherwise” – that is, drop the magazine, clear the weapon, and visually/maually check the chamber…

    Also, I note the weapon was stored UNDER the counter, and may not have specifically been on display – in a gun store, full of high-value and tempting theft targets, it makes sense to have an “amber” weapon for the clerk…

  • Honestly, they were both at fault. Even police go through a version of the basic NRA Pistol course, which includes safety measures. I always check a firearm I have been handed unless it was handed to me after I was shown it was clear and the action is locked open.

    As far as police having a “good deal of experience” with firearms? Not so much. Many of the police in my area and from the surrounding areas only shoot their firearms twice a year, during required qualifications. In my experience, only those officers who are gun enthusiasts have what I would qualify as a good deal of experience.

  • E. Garland is probably right that the officer asked to see a gun that the owner kept under the counter for protection. In any event, never ask to handle a gun unless you know how to handle it.

  • Drop mag, THEN rack slide to clear. Which should be done when taking possession of a firearm. Rule 2, “Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy,” applies EVEN AFTER you have cleared it. And no, guns do not “just go off.”

    The officer took possession of a pistol, apparently assumed it was unloaded (both chamber and magazine), chambered a round, then, while pointing it at his own hand, pulled the trigger. There are only four rules of firearm safety, and he violated three of them (rule four: Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to fire.). Just violating any two of those rules, instead of three, would have prevented anyone from getting hurt (though maybe not stopped any property damage).

    EVEN IF the store was keeping a weapon on display and loaded (which is dangerous and negligent), as opposed to under the counter and not on display, the cop was still massively negligent.

  • Sadly, the police officers in D Owens’ neighborhood handle firearms twice as often as in my old neighborhood, where putting 8 of 10 rounds on a human silhouette at roughly 25 feet. Back when I sold firearms to Law Enforcement it was clear that a significant portion of our local LEOs probably shouldn’t handle firearms, period. For the safety of themselves and others. Fortunately, there was only one incident of an LEO discharging his service weapon into the ceiling of our sister store while I worked there. (The officer insisted his weapon would fit into a particular level three holster which was not designed for his firearm – the discharge occurred as he struggled to get it back out of said holster).

  • Cop should have known better but also WTF WAS THAT GUN DOING LOADED! Major fail on the part of the gun shop.

  • We’re all missing the big picture here. A cop entered a store, saw a dangerous moron with a gun, and successfully disarmed (or disfingered) him without having to fatally wound anyone. This man is a hero.

  • @Parkhorse,

    How do you figure he didn’t violate rule 4?

  • @Jamie R ,

    “A cop entered a store, saw a dangerous moron with a gun”

    I suppose that there could have been a mirror behind the counter, but that would not be typical of the gun stores that I am familiar with.

  • […] our friend Walter Olson at Overlawyered.com comes the story of a police officer from Glasgow, Kentucky who went into a Barren County store called Barren Outdoors. There the […]

  • The cop shooting his finger off might be an improvement over killing the gun shop owner’s dog.

  • As the old man used to say, “Keep yer booger-hook off the boom switch”

  • Sorry, just realized I had an incomplete thought in my post above, must have fallen by the wayside in editing. Was supposed to read, “Sadly, the police officers in D Owens’ neighborhood handle firearms twice as often as in my old neighborhood, where putting 8 of 10 rounds on a human silhouette at roughly 25 feet ONCE A YEAR was all that was required to certify with their firearm.

    Apologies for that.

  • Both the officer and the shop bear responsibility.

    The Officer did not check the pistol before pulling the trigger.

    The shop had a loaded pistol in the display. I’ve never seen this done, anywhere. It is obviously unsafe. In every gun store I’ve been into, and that’s a lot, everyone behind the counter had a visible firearm holstered. The idea that a shop would have loaded weapons in the case, is not consistent with any plan to deter robbery that I can think of.

    I am not an attorney. But it seems to me that if a clerk hands a loaded firearm to a customer, there might be an issue there given that the customer is now in possession of a loaded firearm. This depends on local ordinances, state law, etc.

    In one New Jersey sporting goods store I visited, the clerk would not let me handle a revolver without his hands remaining on it! No one is going to buy a firearm they have not at least manually inspected. So there is variation between state in the matter of gun store procedures.

  • Certainly the salesman should not have handed any customer (LEO or private citizen) a loaded weapon or magazine. But, simply said there is no part of checking out a firearm that involves covering a body part with the muzzle and pulling the trigger.

    As far as the 4 basic firearm safety rules;

    1.Clearly he didn’t assume the weapon was loaded and unload it before cleaning or “playing” with it.
    2. Giving him the benefit of the doubt it appears that he did point the muzzle in relatively safe direction (downward towards the floor) at least until until it covered his finger.
    3. It also does seem that he intentionally placed his finger on the trigger with full intention of pulling the trigger.
    4.He certainly didn’t verify his target nor what was beyond it.

    As we all should know violating any rule can get someone killed, or cause you to lose a finger!

    As far as liability, it’s anyone’s guess what a jury will find.

  • Was the finger resisting arrest?