In October 2010, an unidentified Plano, TX sergeant negligently shot a suspected drug dealer as the officer attempted to turn on his Surefire X300, fatally wounding Michael Anthony Alcala, 25. According to this write-up at LineOfDuty.com, the officer was no-billed by a Grand Jury, although the case was still under administrative review in November. Alcala’s wife and mother have filed suit against the City of Plano, but not Surefire or Springfield Arms.
The lawsuit uses correct language; this was a negligent discharge, not an accidental discharge. The officer was negligent in the handling of his weapon. His finger contacted the trigger, and the firearm functioned as it was designed to. Had the weapon not been pointed at Alcala when the officer tried to turn on the light, he would not have been struck.
Is it time to re-examine weapon-mounted lights? Perhaps. Certainly we need to re-examine the training regimen. Weapon-mounted lights aren’t a new thing, nor is using the trigger finger to switch the light. But special care must be taken during the training and familiarization to re-wire the muscle memory for officers. They’re used to a single action with their trigger finger, and it takes a lot of repetitions to re-train the mind and body to do something so different.
It’s certainly disappointing to me that no criminal charges were filed at all. I wonder if the circumstances of the shooting have anything to do with it? Alcala was a suspected drug dealer in the middle of a sale. But that’s not a capital offense in the US yet. The officer involved hasn’t been identified as of last month since he’s working undercover still. I question why he’s on the street at this point. He must face some sort of penalty for negligently killing Alcala.