Ronny Flanagan, a police officer in Plano, Tx., he killed a man when he was simply trying to press a flashlight switch mounted beneath the trigger on his pistol, reports the Denver Post. Three months after the 2010 shooting, a 76-year-old man took a bullet in the stomach from a New York police officer trying to switch on the same flashlight model. At least three other people in the U.S. over the past nine years have been shot accidentally by police officers with gun-mounted flashlights, an investigation by the Post found. Two victims were fellow officers.
In Colorado, Denver’s police chief banned the use of tactical flashlights with switches below the trigger guard after two officers accidentally fired their guns last year. One of the officers may have shot a suspect when his finger slipped from the flashlight switch to the trigger, firing a bullet into a car window of the fleeing driver. Tactical flashlights were first manufactured for the Navy SEALs, the highly trained strike force that killed Osama bin Laden. When they entered the civilian law enforcement market, training in their use by police officers varied from mandatory to nothing. In a check of police departments in other states, The Post found instances of other officers accidentally firing their guns when they tried to switch on their flashlights. It is impossible to know how often this happens, because no one tracks these incidents nationally.