By now you've probably seen the YouTube video of off-duty Officer Darryl Jouett shooting himself in the stomach while attempting to adjust his firearm. Report after report says that he was attempting to adjust the department-issued .40 caliber handgun in its holster. When viewing the footage, however, it is unclear whether the Erlanger police Officer had been carrying the gun in a holster or simply in the pocket of his jeans.
What is certain, however, is that he either thumbed the safety off, or was carrying the weapon without the safety engaged. The video shows that he attempted to check the gun one-handed while balancing a large box with the other, and both he and his wife were lucky that the bullet, which ricocheted through the elevator, did not kill either of them.
This is just the kind of media attention gun enthusiasts and professional law enforcement do not need. The video footage has been viewed over 157,000 times at this writing, and every major news outlet: print, television, and online, covered the story, ensuring the broadest possible audience. Rather than decry the video and attendant stories as liberal bias, we’d rather use them as a primer for the number one topic on our blog—gun safety.
1) Know your weapon. The semi-automatic, .40 caliber handgun has what’s known as a passive safety: the minute officer Jouett touched the trigger, the safety deactivated.
2) Always use both hands to check a weapon, and always point it at the ground. Officer Jouett, a 25-year veteran of the Erlanger department, seems to have been overconfident of his ability to check his gun one-handed. And, one wonders why he felt the need to check it in an elevator in the first place.
3) Holster Your Weapon. As we mentioned, several reports stated that the officer was attempting to holster his weapon. It is obvious in the video that he removed the gun from his right front pants pocket. He may have been attempting to place it in a waist level, back holster, but the weapon was not holstered when he removed it.
The Erlanger Police Department is investigating, as it would any report of an officer discharging his weapon. Officer Jouett has been reminded the hard way to respect his firearm, and he has provided a cautionary tale for the rest of us.