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Milwaukee Police Association sues city after officers' guns discharge on their own

The gun Milwaukee police officers carry has a history of going off without anyone pulling the trigger.
Kat Ellsworth
Posted at 8:27 PM, Sep 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-21 16:55:53-04

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Police Association (MPA) filed a lawsuit Monday against the city to stop the use of guns that have a history of discharging without anyone pulling the trigger.

As previously reported, the guns Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) officers carry are firing with no one pulling the trigger. The misfires have injured officers three times in the past year and a half. The lawsuit follows the most recent incident that left a 41-year-old Milwaukee officer shot in the knee on Sept. 10.

“The gun was holstered and the officer was bending down to go inside of a car,” said Andrew Wagner, president of the Milwaukee Police Association, previously told TMJ4 News. “The gun just went off. His hands were nowhere near the weapon.”

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According to the lawsuit, the city purchased the SIG Sauer P320 (P320) firearm for MPD and MPA members to use in 2019. The lawsuit says the city knew or should have known about the discharge and safety issues prior to purchasing the guns for MPD.

All members were required to undergo training for the new firearm. The lawsuit says at this training, the city "failed to disclose that the P320 had issues with discharging without a trigger pull, and the officers relied on the safety training to be accurate and complete."

On July 14, 2020, an officer's gun accidentally discharged while with a suspect, shooting the officer in the leg. The officer had to undergo rehabilitation and physical therapy.

An MPD sergeant broke down the officer's P320 and discovered the firearm was missing a part and authored a report, the lawsuit said. The Sgt. noted he had concerns with the P320 having a risk of an accidental discharge. He was then contacted by a Major from the Department of Veteran's Affairs who said their agency had also experienced an accidental discharge from a P320, injuring an officer.

The lawsuit says during a conference call with SIG Sauer regarding the firearm's safety, SIG Sauer was "unwilling to state that the P320 would not discharge if it was dropped, slammed, or jostled." During the same call, SIG Sauer allegedly stated the firearm had an "additional risk of not firing when an officer needed it to."

The lawsuit says the city is endangering the safety of its officers and the general public by issuing its officers the firearm. The lawsuit asks that a judge force the city to pay damages for the injuries received and replace each and every issued P320 with a safer firearm.

In a statement issued by MPA President Andrew Wagner on Tuesday, Wagner called the unintentional discharges "unacceptable."

"It is unacceptable that we now have hundreds of cases around the country with known unintentional discharges and the city is failing to act," the statement said in part. "We file this lawsuit not just for the safety of our members and their families, but for all Milwaukee residents, who we believe could fall victim to another unintentional discharge if these guns are not replaced."

Wagner said MPA filed a Notice of Claim against the City of Milwaukee in June of 2021 demanding an investigation into the guns and to replace the current firearms for "known safety issues." After last week's incident and not hearing a plan or discussion on the issue, MPA filed the lawsuit in Milwaukee Circuit Court, Wagner said.

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