A Port Moody police officer shot himself in the leg while attending a firearms qualification training course in 2021, according to a recently released WorkSafeBC incident report.
The officer was at the Port Coquitlam & District Hunting & Fishing Club, which is located in Coquitlam. Under the supervision of two instructors and a safety officer, ten Port Moody Police Department officers were at the range on May 27, 2021 to renew their firearms qualifications.
All municipal police departments are required to test their officers’ firearm proficiency annually.
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The weather was overcast and rainy. At the time of the incident, the officer was standing on a firing line in an uncovered section of the range about seven metres from the target.
Following a verbal safety briefing and an explanation of COVID-19 safety protocols at the club, officers were inspected to ensure they were wearing “appropriate personal protective equipment.”
After shooting paper targets from various distances for about 30 minutes, an instructor directed the group for a “flash sighting” drill. Officers were instructed to draw their firearms and shoot: “one round within two seconds from the holster,” according to the report.
The officer was wearing his plainclothes holster under a rain jacket.
While drawing his Glock 22, the officer held the pistol’s grip while extending his trigger finger to open the holster. After hitting the holster’s release button, he pulled the .40-calibre pistol directly upward.
Other officers on the firing line heard: “what sounded like a gunshot going off too soon after the command to shoot was given,” according to the incident report.
Following a ceasefire order, an instructor rushed to help the officer, “who was slowly attempting to sit on the ground.”
An instructor yelled for someone to call 911 as officers began administering first aid.
The incident was most likely caused by the officer’s trigger finger getting hooked inside the trigger guard and accidentally contacting the Glock’s trigger. As the officer drew the firearm, “he inadvertently applied upward pressure on the trigger, causing the trigger to engage and discharge a bullet,” according to WorkSafeBC investigators.
The officer told WorkSafeBC investigators he: “could not say for sure where his trigger finger was located when he was drawing his firearm from his holster.”
He had previously qualified with his firearm using the same holster he was using that day, a Blackhawk Serpa CQC, according to the report.
An examiner performed a series of firearm draws and found the jacket didn’t interfere with the holster.
However, there are documented cases of incidents in which the same type of plastic toggle gets lodged inside a trigger guard as a pistol is being put into a holster. That pressure on the trigger has caused the pistol to discharge.
The Port Moody Police Department has no record of similar incidents with any of its issued holsters. However, WorkSafeBC investigators found two U.S. police departments stopped using the Blackhawk Serpa CQC holster “due to safety concerns.”
“Out of an abundance of caution,” the Port Moody Police Department no longer uses that model of holster, according to the report.
No issues with the firearm
A subsequent inspection of the pistol, magazine and ammunition found “nothing unusual,” according to the report. The firearm: ““performed as designed with no issues identified,” according to the report.
Neither examiner found “any malfunction or issues with the holster or retention mechanism.”
WorkSafeBC found the Port Moody Police Department provided adequate training and supervision.
The investigation was primarily helmed by Tony Rychkun.