PENN HILLS, Pa. (KDKA) – The Brooklyn Center police chief said the officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop meant to use her stun gun, but instead grabbed her gun. How could an officer confuse a stun gun with a firearm, and are police trained to avoid the deadly confusion?
At the Penn Hills Police Department, there is mandatory training once a year on how to handle your gun and your stun gun. But officers are encouraged to practice the move every day.READ MORE: Port Authority Operating Two-Car Trains For Steelers Ravens Game
Police often use stun guns to control a suspect who refuses to listen to commands. In her three years on the force, Penn Hills Police officer Amanda Duncan has had to use hers.
“They’re not compliant with commands. For example, if they are not putting their hands behind their back. We can do the taser,” said Duncan.
So far, Officer Duncan hasn’t used her firearm while on duty. That’s reserved for physical threats. And she’s confident she won’t confuse her stun gun for her service firearm. She’s right-handed, so her gun is holstered on her right, or dominant side. The stun gun is on the left. She says muscle memory guides her to the correct side. She practices constantly.READ MORE: Judge Won’t Dismiss 25 Murder Counts Against Ohio Doctor
“I do it every day. I get dressed and I just take it in and out, in and out. Same with my firearm. So, I’m comfortable,” she says.
There’s no question a stun gun feels different than a service firearm. It’s lighter and made of a different material. While many are yellow, Penn Hills uses black so the yellow doesn’t attract attention.
Penn Hills police instructor Adam Quinn says even with training, anything can happen in the heat of the moment. That’s what makes training so essential.
“Under a stress-induced environment where a lot is going on and your attention is elsewhere, mistakes can happen. And that’s why we train our officers to go between the two tools,” said Quinn.MORE NEWS: Wife Of Greene County DA Granted A Protection From Abuse Order
Pittsburgh Police say they use similar protocols. Officers go through a mandatory annual training on how to use a stun gun versus their service firearm.