Editor's Note -- Below are three principles related to involuntary discharge as determined by Dr. Roger Enoka, PhD*:
1) The "startle response." In other words, your hands will involuntarily clench when you are startled or surprised.
2) The "loss of balance;" whenever you stumble or trip, your hands will automatically grip in an attempt to maintain your body's balance.
3) The "sympathetic grip," i.e.,: when one hand grips or squeezes, the other will automatically do the same.
Any of these action can result in an accidental discharge, thus the rule "keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire."
*Dr. Enoka heads the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado at Boulder
EUGENE, Ore. -- A Eugene police SWAT officer shot a colleague in the foot while climbing a fence at the home of a suspected drug dealer, the authorities said.
The bullet from a SWAT 9mm long gun went through the injured officer's foot, said Capt. Pete Kerns of the Eugene Police Department. Paramedics were already on scene and came to the aid of the officer, who was taken to the hospital for treatment. The department has yet to release the officer's name. He has been with the department for almost three years.
The officer whose gun discharged is a "veteran police officer," Kerns said. His name was withheld because he is the subject of an internal investigation, the captain said.
"This is what I would classify as an industrial accident for law enforcement," Kerns said. "This was not a friendly fire incident, but a mechanical failure or an error on the part of the person carrying the gun."
The department's violent crimes unit was investigating.
The shooting happened after the vice narcotics unit asked SWAT to help serve a search warrant at the home of a suspected drug dealer with a history of weapons possession, Kerns said.
SWAT officers entered the house, rounded up the occupants and searched for any hazards, Kerns said. They were preparing to hand the scene over to detectives when the shooting occurred.
Apparently, three SWAT officers assigned to cover the backyard of the home were climbing a fence to get out, Kerns said. One of the officers' guns fired and hit the other officer.
The officer whose gun discharged will be allowed to return to work as scheduled. "It is not a standard of ours in cases of accidental discharges to place officers on administrative leave," Kerns said.
SWAT officers are among any police department's most highly trained and skilled officers, and such accidental shootings are rare, Kerns said.
However, in Eugene, the last accidental shooting of one officer by another occurred in 2001, when a SWAT sniper mistook another SWAT officer, Sgt. Jay Shadwick, for an armed suspect and shot him in the chest.
Shadwick returned to work six months later.
An investigation found no negligence on the part of the sniper.