Troy police officer shot by ‘defective’ gun sues manufacturer – Albany Times Union


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ALBANY — A Troy police officer who suffered a severe gunshot wound in June when his semiautomatic handgun fired a round while holstered has filed a federal lawsuit against the gun's manufacturer, SIG Sauer, Inc., which has faced other lawsuits from law enforcement officers and others injured in similar incidents.

Detective Sgt. Michael Colwell's lawsuit said his department-issued P320 semiautomatic pistol was loaded with live rounds when he was at the department's range and taking part in a training exercise in which he and another officer were "clearing" rooms. During the drill, he holstered the weapon, reached across his body to arm himself with a simulated Taser and the gun fired a round without the trigger being pulled.

"Colwell never touched the P320’s trigger. Colwell’s finger could not have touched the P320’s trigger while it was holstered," the lawsuit states. "The bullet struck Colwell in his upper right thigh, traveled through his quad muscle, and exited above his right knee, causing substantial injury, maceration of tissue, blood loss, and nerve damage."

The federal claim, filed in U.S. District Court in Albany, notes the "full extent of the physical damage to his leg is not yet known, he has had and it is likely that he will have trouble running, sitting, or standing as he had before the incident, and may not be able to return to this position as a result of diminished physical capacity to perform his job."

Representatives of SIG Sauer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Colwell is on medical leave and has not returned to active duty.

"My life and the lives of my wife and children were forever changed when my service issued P320 fired without me touching the trigger," he said in a statement issued by Robert Zimmerman, one of his attorneys "I consider it my duty to hold the maker of this defective firearm accountable for myself, for my family, and for every other person throughout the country who may be at risk from this gun model."

SIG Sauer's P320 weapon, which is widely used by police forces, has been the target of numerous lawsuits from individuals who have been injured when "chambered" rounds have fired unexpectedly without trigger pulls. The lawsuit filed on behalf of Colwell notes the company has adjusted its owners-manual warnings about the gun through the years. Those warnings included a statement cautioning the weapon could fire if dropped without the trigger being pulled if a round were "chambered," according to the lawsuit.

The civil complaint also noted that when SIG Sauer was competing for a $580 million contract with the U.S. Army in 2016, its prototype P320s "exhibited nearly 200 malfunctions during Army testing. The army demanded that SIG fix all problems associated with the prototype." A year later, the Army submitted a demand that the weapon's internal firing system be replaced.

"Meanwhile, SIG permitted approximately 500,000 P320s to be used by United States law enforcement and civilians alike," the lawsuit states.

Four years ago, after a Connecticut law enforcement agent was "shot by a P320 that fell to the ground from less than three feet," SIG Sauer allegedly added language to its owners-manual document stating, "careless and improper handling of any firearm can result in unintentional discharge."

The lawsuit contends the company knew or "should have known" the pistols were "defective" when they were sent to the Troy Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.

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