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Tulsa firearms instructor explains taser, handgun differences after 'accidental discharge' death

Posted at 10:39 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 23:47:38-04

TULSA, Okla. — A Minnesota police chief declared the officer-involved shooting death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright an "accidental discharge." Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon believes the officer meant to tase Wright but shot him instead.

READ MORE: Police: Officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright in Minnesota meant to reach for stun gun

Body camera video of the deadly traffic stop was released Monday. In the video, an officer is heard saying, "taser, taser, taser" and moments later, the same officer says, "I just shot him."

"The only word you have for that is tragic," 30-year law enforcement officer and 2A Shooting Center head firearms instructor, Robert Jerome, said. "All the way around."

Jerome told 2 Works for You he has only seen an officer mistakenly fire a handgun instead of their taser twice. The shooting death in Brooklyn Center and in Tulsa County in April 2015.

In that instance, Tulsa County Sheriff's Office reserve deputy, Robert Bates, shot and killed 44-year-old Eric Harris in a sting operation. Bates said afterward he meant to stun Harris.

"You get put under stress and you're processing three or four things and all of a sudden you think you went for the taser and you made a mistake," Jerome said.

Jerome said officers are trained to holster their taser cross-draw from their pistol. Meaning, if an officer is a right-handed shooter, their handgun should sit on their right hip and taser on the left hip.

"That's a normal practice," Jerome said.

He also said an officer's taser is lighter, with a more narrow grip, and usually has an external thumb safety release. But, he said, all the practice in the world cannot make every police officer perfect.

"Training only limits mistakes it doesn't eliminate them," Jerome said.

In the line of duty, mistakes are a matter of life and death.

"When other people make mistakes they get a do-over, right?" Jerome said. "We get one time around, right? That's it. And we have to perform under stress and that's our job. That's our job, but it's difficult at times."

2 Works for You spoke with another local firearms instructor and Tulsa police officer who reviewed the body camera video from Broken Center police.

"The officer's actions are grossly negligent," he said. "It appears to be a severe lack of training."

The officer involved was put on administrative leave.

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