Drawstrings can cause guns many law enforcement agencies use to fire

Indiana police chief hopes to prevent accidents

CONNERSVILLE, Ind. - A piece of clothing can cause handguns many law enforcement agencies use to fire, as an Indiana police chief recently found after accidentally shooting himself at a gun shop.

Connersville Police Chief David Counceller was shopping at Wulff's Gun Shop in January, searching for a deal on a handgun.

Counceller was looking at a .380-caliber handgun and pulled out his Glock 23 to compare it with other gun.

After he put the Glock back in his holster, Counceller tugged on his jacket. Within seconds, the Glock fired, striking him in the right leg. The incident was captured on store surveillance cameras.

"I've been in business 34 years. This is the first time that has happened or I've seen it happen," said store owner Jim Wulff.

Counceller, in his seventh year as chief, was treated and released from a hospital and soon returned to work.

"I was embarrassed and humiliated," he said.

Counceller carries the department-issued Glock 23 while off duty. While working, he depends on a Glock 22.

Despite a slight difference in size, both have the same safety feature -- a piece of metal that must be pressed down to fire the weapon.

"If I go on the side of the trigger … it's not going to go off," Counceller said. "Your whole finger has to be in here to push this little lever, so to speak, down on the lever to go."

On the day of the shooting, Counceller's hands were not on the trigger, but his fleece jacket's drawstring found its way into his holster.

"When pulling up on that jacket, this thing comes up, basically hits the safety and fired," he said.

Based on the store video, an internal police investigation concluded that the jacket's drawstring "caused the weapon to fire."

Glock's website claims 65 percent of the country's law enforcement uses on of its guns. That includes the FBI, whose agents carry Glock 23s.

Indianapolis Metro police carry Glock 22s, as do Marion County sheriff's deputies.

Police agencies in numerous states, including Arizona, California, Missouri and Maryland are also armed with the Glock 22.

Deputy Steve Cooper, of the Marion County, Ore. Sheriff's Office, accidentally shot himself in 2005 with his Glock 22.

While getting out of his cruiser, the gun fired, injuring his lower right leg.

"For a day or two, they were thinking of amputation," he said.

An Oregon State Police investigation cleared Cooper, but blamed his windbreaker's drawstring for getting caught in the trigger guard.

"When it initially happened, I was certain -- there were four people in the car -- I was certain someone else had done it. When they told me, 'No, it was your own gun,' it was pretty embarrassing," Cooper said. "If I can prevent it from happening to somebody else, then I can get some good from what's been a bad situation for me. I've got permanent damage to my leg, and my ego and I might as well try to make some good out of it."

A jacket drawstring was also blamed in an accidental shooting involving a deputy in Louisiana. The deputy was using a Glock 23.

"Watch what you're doing when handling a firearm, because the clothing can play a factor in it," Wulff said.

Wulff kept the remains of the bullet and will have to cover a hole in the carpet while Counceller recovers from his injury.

"I don't want to see nobody go through what I did because I don't want to see anybody get hurt or killed by something that's so simple as combining jackets with these," Counceller said.

Counceller is planning to begin an awareness campaigns over the next few days. He doesn't intend to sue Glock.

In 1999, Counceller accidentally shot himself in the hand while assembling a gun he thought was not loaded.

Several police groups are expected to issue a proactive warning to be mindful of clothing that could interfere with their weapons.

RTV6 reached out to Glock in writing and by phone weeks before this story was released. The company did not respond.

Read the email requests here .

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