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Denver police looking at gun-mounted flashlights after 5 accidental shootings in about a year

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DENVER — Denver's police chief has ordered a review of all department policies after the second accidental shooting this month and the fifth in a little over a year.

The review is paying particular attention to gun-mounted tactical flashlights, which are blamed for at least two of the shootings, according the city's independent police monitor. Some models have on/off switches located just below the gun's trigger guard.

The Denver Post (http://tinyurl.com/pqby7uo) reported Friday that Police Chief Robert White is reviewing the use of all such flashlights and may require officers who use them to undergo added training. He has already banned officers from using models with switches near the trigger guard.

A bystander may have been grazed by a bullet in one of this year's shootings, which is still under review, or she may have been hit by debris from the bullet's impact. No one else was hit in the other accidental firings, police spokesman Sonny Jackson said.

White said the shootings are troubling because accidental shootings are "more often than not a sign of negligence on the part of the officer."

In the rest of the country, at least two men have been shot by officers who fired when they were trying to turn their flashlights on.

A 25-year-old suspected drug dealer was killed in Plano, Texas, in 2010. In New York City the following year, an officer accidentally shot Jose Colon, an unarmed 76-year-old man. Colon survived.

The latest shooting happened Sunday night when an officer chasing car-theft suspects unintentionally fired.

That came less than a week after the bystander was injured when an officer's gun accidentally went off while he was chasing a man suspected of a probation violation.

The three officers involved in last year's accidental shootings were disciplined, White said. Their punishments ranged from a written reprimand to a four-day suspension.


Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com

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