"Friendly" Gunfire Inside Georgia Bank
Picture yourself standing in line at the bank. Your paycheck in hand. Spouse and kids in the car waiting. Landlord waiting for the rent check. Groceries to buy. Your mind is in a million places at once. So much to do, so little time and too little money. Suddenly, a shady looking character walks into the bank and positions himself in line behind you. You’re worried. Banks are robbed every day, right? And the robbers take hostages, too. Sure they do.
Then, someone from the loan office walks up to the guy with shifty eyes. She’s speaking to him. Did he do something wrong? Your heart is pounding. Wait. She knows him. You listen. He’s a friend. Better yet, he’s an off-duty police officer. All those worries for nothing. Whew! How much safer could you be than having a police officer standing next to you? Is he armed? Yep. And he’s showing his pistol to the bank employee. She’s saying something about wanting to buy a handgun, but she’s worried they’re not safe.
“Nothing to worry about,” he says. “They’re perfectly safe.”
The officer pushes a button and pops out the thing that holds all the bullets. A magazine is what he called it. His friend says she thought it was called a clip. He says that a common misconception.
“The gun looks so menacing,” she says.
He’s looking inside a slot on the side of the magazine. Counting the bullets maybe? They must be all there because he shoves the magazine back inside the pistol. It locks with a loud snap.
“Firearms are safe. It’s the person holding them you have to worry about,” he says.
Everyone ducks for cover. Could there be a robber after all. What’s the officer doing? Why didn’t he stop the shooter? Is the bank employee all right? What’s going on? What just happened?
Can you imagine yourself in this scenario? What would you do? How would you react?
Well, customers and bank employees in a Thunderbolt, Ga. bank found out the hard way how they’d react, because something similar happened to them just last week.
An off-duty Thunderbolt police officer identified only as C. Watson was inside a branch of a United Community Bank when a bank employee asked him about handguns. She asked because she was considering buying one. Officer Watson, a two year veteran of the police department, drew his weapon to show the employee. As he was explaining the weapon and its functions he ejected the magazine, keeping the barrel aimed at the floor. Suddenly, the weapon fired sending the chambered round (Walton had failed to clear the chamber) into the concrete floor.
Luckily, no one was injured during this extremely dangerous mishap. Well, no one was physically injured. But I’m sure the officer’s pride and reputation took a heavy hit, as did his personnel file. The question of the day is…What should happen to the officer? Suspension? Dismissal? Criminal charges? Or nothing at all?
Personally, I’d say at least a week unpaid leave. An ND in a bank is a very bad idea, especially for a cop. Why he would pull it out a brandish it, IN LINE no less, simply to show it off is beyond me, but it did happen. It was stupid and he paid the price for it.
As to shooting at the floor, I think the point would be that most would rather take a bullet frag to the leg than a full on Jacketed Hollow Point to any other part of the body.
Yes, it was a mistake to accidentally discharge the weapon, but it was no accident when he pulled the weapon out in a bank. That was certainly no place for the examination of a firearm. Still, I agree, it was an accident and the officer should be be given a second chance, but not without some sort of punishment.
Terry – Cops are normally taught to “skip shoot” with shotguns, which is simply ricocheting pellets off pavement (concrete and asphalt). This technique allows officers to shoot a violent suspect’s legs if that’s all that’s visible in places like beneath autos they’re using for cover. So, this officer likely knew of the danger involved if a bullet struck a concrete floor slab.
I agree with Dave – cops are people, and they make mistakes. But doing something stupid on the job where people could get killed …that’s scary. However, having made enough dumb mistakes myself, I’d hate to see his career ruined if it’s fixable. At least he was pointing the weapon at the floor, which indicates he’s not totally beyond repair.
5-10 day suspension and remedial firearms training.
The question his bosses need to figure out is whether he just did something stupid, or whether he IS stupid. If it is the former, that can be fixed.
But you can’t fix stupid.