Milwaukee police sue city over gun discharges

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Police throughout the nation have had a rough couple of years. They’ve been demonized by many of the people they are meant to protect, for one thing, and have been the proverbial whipping boys for politicians looking to score points in America’s cities.

In Milwaukee, though, it seems they’ve got another issue. They can’t trust their duty weapons.

Now, they’re suing the city over it.

Milwaukee’s police union is suing the city over service weapons that officers say aren’t safe because they have inadvertently fired without anyone pulling the trigger.

It’s the latest legal action involving the P320 model firearm manufactured by SIG Sauer, including a case filed in Philadelphia in June by a U.S. Army veteran who suffered a serious leg injury when his holstered gun discharged. SIG Sauer, based in Newington, New Hampshire, has denied the P320 model is defective.

The Milwaukee Police Association says the department-issued handguns have inadvertently misfired three times in the last two years resulting in injuries to two officers.

Most recently, a 41-year-old officer was shot in the knee on Sept. 10. In July 2020, Officer Adam Maritato, who is a party in the union’s lawsuit that was filed this week, was unintentionally shot in the leg by another officer’s holstered gun.

We’ve talked before about this, particularly in Milwaukee.

Yet Milwaukee police aren’t the first to notice this particular issue. I’ve been talking about it since 2018 when Sig opted to offer “voluntary upgrades” to address the issue.

In fact, that history is part of why we have a lawsuit now.

The lawsuit alleges that when the city purchased the guns in 2019, it knew, or should have known, about the discharge and safety issues. It also says that during training for the weapons, 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.”

I get the concern.

However, in the city’s defense, the issue with the P320 was supposed to have been addressed by Sig after it was shown in 2018 that there was a situation in which the weapon would fire without the trigger being pulled. My understanding was that Sig fixed the issue for future guns, so Milwaukee should have not needed to be concerned.

Yet, as we see, something is still going on with these weapons. It doesn’t look like the police department there really did enough testing and now the officers are a little miffed.

That’s completely understandable.

I mean, Maritato always knew that being shot was a potentiality of the job, but being shot in the leg by another officer whose weapon was still in the holster was probably not something he considered. Being a police officer is dangerous enough as it is. The last thing anyone should have to worry about is whether their weapon might go off and injure or kill someone all on its own.

This will be an interesting case to see proceed. If it does get into a courtroom, it’ll be interesting to see the impact on other departments that carry the P320 as well.