The undercover officer approached a suspected drug dealer in the darkness, wary that his target might be armed, so the Plano, Tx., cop drew his gun from his holster. He pointed it at the shadowy figure. He tried to activate his gun-mounted flashlight. The Dallas Morning News says the restult, an accidental fatal shooting last October of unarmed Michael Anthony Alcala, 25, in Dallas parking lot highlights what some experts say is the potential danger of affixing flashlights to guns – something many departments around the nation now routinely do. In this case, a light switch was directly below the gun’s trigger guard.
“You have a tool that is capable of delivering lethal force and playing with it by adding things to it. Doing things to it is always, to me, a very dangerous combination, dangerous mix,” said Ken Cooper, a veteran New York firearms instructor and consultant. “To me, a gun should be a gun, a flashlight is a flashlight.” Even those who see no problem with the concept and the design of the gun in question say that familiarity with the altered weapon is essential. “Anything new that you hang on your gun, you better make sure you’re prepared to use it,” said Harvey Hedden of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. The Plano shooting sparked a lawsuit on behalf of the Alcala family against the city of Plano that alleges negligence in the shooting.