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WHITEHALL -- Fort Edward's police chief is out of work for several weeks after he accidentally shot himself in the hand with a hangun Friday night.
Walt Sandford suffered a gunshot wound to his left hand that will require surgery to repair as he cleaned a 9mm semiautomatic handgun in his Whitehall home.
The incident came as Sandford -- who is also a Whitehall village trustee -- led an investigation into an accidental shooting death last week of a 13-year-old boy in the village of Fort Edward.
Sandford said Wednesday that his recovery was expected to take up to 6 weeks. He is righthanded.
"My pride was hurt more than my hand," he said.
Fort Edward Police Sgt. Justin Derway will be in charge of the department until then, though Sandford said he expected he will be able to resume some office duties sooner.
Sandford said the round entered his palm below his pinky, travelling through the hand.
He said he went to Glens Falls Hospital by private vehicle -- "I didn't want to bother the local rescue squad" -- and was then taken to Albany Medical Center.
Sandford said he was cleaning the gun, a personally owned weapon that he does not use for police purposes.
He was breaking down the gun to clean it and moved the slide back, believing there was not a round in the chamber, when the gun discharged.
"Obviously I thought the round had ejected," he said. "I was doing something I've done thousands of times."
Whitehall Police and the Washington County Sheriff's Office investigated the accident.
Sheriff Jeff Murphy said the shooting was an "unfortunate accident" and that even the most highly trained firearms experts made mistakes with guns.
"I've seen the same thing happen to veterans firearms instructors," he said.
The investigation of the fatal shooting of Gary Cota was continuing under the direction of Derway. Cota was shot June 5 when a shotgun he and a friend were handling in Cota's bedroom discharged.
 

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Time to stop exempting the police from laws that are designed to protect people from themselves.
 

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Just like someone said on the other thread (too lazy too look it up), this is why we ALWAYS look into the chamber instead of just racking the slide.
 

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Negligent shooting, not accidental. No such things as accidental.
Are you saying he did it purposefully and not accidentally? If not done purposefully then it was accidental whether or not negligence was involved. Something can be accidental and not be due negligence (measning dsomeone was at fault not necessarily with malice) just as it can be due to someone being at fault by either negligence or malice. In this case it appears to be an accident due to negligence.

Example of accidental shooting without negligence on part of the shooter: Hunter is in woods, he walking along a ridge line, gun is hot, safety on, finger off trigger, shotgun poinbted in safe direction. he is doing exactly what he has been taught is safe to do. Ridge line collpases as he traverses it due to errosion. He falls, gun discharges (Blankety Blank Brand Shotgun which can go off if butt struck with enough force due to floating firing pin). Was he negligent or was that an accident with no negligence involved?

I can think of many other ones all well within the realm of possibility. Yes accidents can happen in which there is no negligence on the part of the person handling the gun.

All the best,
Glenn B
 

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Are you saying he did it purposefully and not accidentally? If not done purposefully then it was accidental whether or not negligence was involved. Something can be accidental and not be due negligence (measning dsomeone was at fault not necessarily with malice) just as it can be due to someone being at fault by either negligence or malice. In this case it appears to be an accident due to negligence.

Example of accidental shooting without negligence on part of the shooter: Hunter is in woods, he walking along a ridge line, gun is hot, safety on, finger off trigger, shotgun poinbted in safe direction. he is doing exactly what he has been taught is safe to do. Ridge line collpases as he traverses it due to errosion. He falls, gun discharges (Blankety Blank Brand Shotgun which can go off if butt struck with enough force due to floating firing pin). Was he negligent or was that an accident with no negligence involved?

I can think of many other ones all well within the realm of possibility. Yes accidents can happen in which there is no negligence on the part of the person handling the gun.

All the best,
Glenn B
No it was not accidental, he was negligent for not being 100% sure gun was safe. Hunter scenario, negligence for not knowing your terrain and buy a gun that is know for going off with a jolt to buttstock. There is no such thing as an accident with a gun.
 

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Now why would you say that? Should be like they do in Texas and give him a good hazing and perhaps a smaller gun...
Well, he does have a hole through his left hand, hazing is probably not necessary. An idea for a decent practical joke...his dept. should confiscate his 9mm and issue him this instead...

 

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He was breaking down the gun to clean it and moved the slide back, believing there was not a round in the chamber, when the gun discharged.

Why is he racking the slide in such a way that ANY part of his anatomy is covering the end of the barrel?
Sounds like someone needs a refresher course in pistol handling!
 

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IMHO, this is more of a lesson in human nature than anything else. People are negligent by nature, and negligence is always a greater concern when someone is so familiar with a process or action that they can focus on something else while performing that action, even if a mistake in that action is potentially deadly. Happens with motorists all the time. They get on their own road and wreck into a ditch or parked car because they "thought there was no danger" since they had driven that road so many times that it just wasn't possible for something to go wrong. If you have 27 years of experience cleaning your 9mm pistol, then decide to carry out cleaning in front of a TV and a breaking news story comes on, you've lost focus on the cleaning so anything could happen. If a round is in the chamber, you may not even remember if you racked the slide, all safety training and caution can go out the window. Almost everyone has their threshold of being distracted, and distractions can happen at any time, even within someone's own mind. I spend a good deal of time daydreaming of hooters and women in bikini's, and according to research, a high percentage of adult males do the same thing. LOL.

Good thing for the police chief that he was the only one injured. If a family member had been in the line of fire, could've been a lot worse than a hole through a left hand. I think "twisted" summed it up well - complacency kills!
 

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Press check or check or maybe not. Pull the trigger to remove the slide and oops! I feel like an a s s! Unfortunate accident... If it were anyone of us (I highly doubt it) we would be called an ignorant uneducated back woods ******* that shouldn't be fooling around with guns.:mad:
 

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Definition of accidental discharge: "Operator Error"...........No excuses....!
 
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