SIG Sauer – recent winner of the US Army’s Modular Handgun System competition – is being sued by an officer from the Stamford, Connecticut Police Department Special Response Team over an incident he claims was the result of a defect in their P320 handgun. In the suit, the officer alleges that he dropped the pistol – still in its holster – while he was loading equipment into the back of his vehicle, which caused it to discharge a bullet into his leg. From the Connecticut Law Tribune:
A Stamford police officer has sued gunmaker Sig Sauer over injuries he suffered when his holstered P320 pistol discharged and hit him in the leg after he dropped it in a parking lot.
According to the complaint filed Aug. 4 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, officer Vincent Sheperis dropped his holstered department-issued handgun while loading equipment into the back of his car in January. The gun fired when it hit the pavement, and the bullet entered beneath his left knee and lodged to the side “with the round protruding from his leg.”
Sheperis, a 34-year-old member of the department’s Special Response Team, underwent multiple surgeries and is back on light duty, although more surgeries may be required, according to his attorney, Jeffrey Bagnell of Westport.
Sheperis is seeking at least $6 million in punitive and compensatory damages, and is demanding Sig Sauer recall the pistol or include a warning that the gun is not “drop safe” when a round is chambered.
“For it to just go off—it’s kind of horrifying, really,” Bagnell said.
The Stamford Police Department said it’s shelved all P320s it issued to its officers because of the incident.
The SIG P320 is the weapon that formed the basis for the Army’s new M17 Modular Handgun System. The pistol has recently come under scrutiny for a defect in the design which allows the trigger to move to the rear under inertia, releasing the sear and causing an accidental discharge. This defect was first identified by the Dallas Police Department, who recalled their P320 handguns until they were reassured by SIG Sauer. However, the defect was further verified in tests conducted by Omaha Outdoors, which showed that if the P320 struck the ground on or near the back of the slide, it would discharge. This incident in Connecticut is the first, and so far only, injury allegedly caused by the P320’s flaw.
Competitor Glock’s design, like most other striker-fired handgun manufacturers, has from the beginning incorporated a trigger safety which prevents this malfunction. Glock finished second in the MHS contract, and unsuccessfully protested the Army’s decision to adopt the SIG.