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James D.F. Samdavid1

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Shooting Accident Inside Squad Car      Download this Full Story
By James D.F. Samdavid1
Wednesday, March 27, 2002

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Names used have been changed in this true story.

Shotgun Goes Off Inside Squad Car

Shooting competition is a very big issue among police officers. This is based on a true story and although it sounds humorist the danger of what could have happened certainly out weighs the humor.

I will not enter the name of the police department or the names of the officers that were involved in the shooting accident on the pages of this story, as they have already suffered enough embarrassment without my adding to it.

The policemen on our department would go to shooting competitions as often as they could. It kept you sharp and on your toes. The most important thing about it was becoming familiar with your weapon and how other officers that were your back-ups would react under stress.

Each time I entered a competition I would learn something new, some things I would use and others I would not.

I will say, the police officers involved in this shooting accident were not from the same police department that I worked for.

There were four officers riding in a marked squad on their way to a shoot that was being put on by the FBI in Waukegan Illinois. One of the officers was of a very high rank in the department. The other three were patrol officers.

As they were driving along Illinois Highway 41 northbound, the officer who was a passenger in the right front seat was resting his hand on the shotgun that was locked into a stand up type frame and was secured to the front floor of the squad. When the squad hit a bump in the pavement officer Don Peters lost his balance (he was not wearing a seat belt) his hand slipped down the stock of the shotgun and his finger hit the trigger. This would not be a problem, normally.

One of the officers had been on a prowl call the night before and had taken the shotgun out of the locking device and racked a live shell into the chamber. If you know anything about a shotgun you know what happened next when the squad hit the bump in the road.


The noise was deafening to say the least! The officer that had been on the prowl call the night before did two things wrong. Racking a live shell into a shotgun chamber on a prowl call is not the issue. When you leave that shell in there and also fail to put the safety on after placing the shotgun back into the rack is just not done!

The high-ranking officer, who was the driver, almost lost control of the squad when the blast blew a hole through the roof. It took him a few minutes to regain his composure that's for certain.

Because they were so close to the competition the officers decided to continue on to the shoot, rather than turn around and switch the squad with another unit. When they arrived at the shoot the only parking place open was right next to the entrance side of the building and in viewing range of most of the shooters. It was not difficult to figure out what had happened when you looked at their squad. That is why I said they have already received enough embarrassment.

Officer Don Powell did not compete in the shoot that day. He was still shaking from the ordeal.

When the FBI heard about the accident they wrote a new chapter into their codebook regarding the dangers of improper handling of a shotgun. So, when I said I learn something at each shoot, this was one of those times.

I was present at the shooting competition that day and I saw the look of fear on Officer Don Powell's face and I felt sorry for him. Officer Powell overcame that experience quickly however and was ready for duty the next day.

Did I check my shotgun for a live shell in the chamber and having the safety on after that? It was something that I had been doing since the first night that I became a police officer. That is something you never forget after you have screwed up. In my case not checking my shotgun (the first night on the job) was enough for me. I did the same thing only I did not pull the trigger. My training officer corrected me immediately before any one was injured or a shot was fired!

© James Samdavid1 Fullington
March 27, 2002

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Reviewed by Joel Harding 4/22/2003
As a veteran of the Army and having grown up around guns, it was a shock to me as a rookie cop at how little cops know about guns. I can sympathize, however, as I have had an "AD" myself. Fortunately, nobody was hurt (although I suffered a much-bruised ego). Guns are like fire... a great tool... but they WILL burn you if you turn your back on them for one second. Gotta stay safe!!
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 8/18/2002
enjoyed the read
Reviewed by Claywoman 3/31/2002
I told you guns were dangerous...hehe

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