10 Mar 99
“A Nebraska state trooper who shot and killed a fellow trooper in a
training exercise had forgotten that he had reloaded his weapon during a
break, authorities said Friday. Trooper Mark Wagner, 37, a 12-year State
Patrol veteran, died as a result of a single, unintentional, gunshot wound to the chest.
During a daylong defensive tactics training exercise, the participating officers took a
lunch break. After the lunch break, they resumed what is called ‘weapons
retention training’ with their ‘unloaded’ service weapons. It is meant to
teach officers to protect themselves from weapon take-away attempts . After this training sequence, there was another break. At that point, the officer who would fire the fatal shot believed the weapons training was over and reloaded his weapon (Glock 22).
During a subsequent training sequence dealing with spontaneous knife defense, the
officer drew his pistol and fired the fatal round.
Although Trooper Wagner was issued a bulletproof vest, he was not wearing it at the time. Had it been in place, it would have probably saved his life.”
As a result of this tragic incident, the State of Nebraska and the State Patrol decided to:
1. Fly the flag at half-staff.
2. Remind everyone of “the inherent dangers of police work.”
3. Offer “bereavement dialogue” to the other State Troopers.
4. Talk endlessly about why this incident was not the fault of any trainer or any administrator and why nothing should ever be changed, offering a nauseating plethora of plausible excuses in an effort to convince everyone who would listen that they are all perfect and utterly incapable of error.
5. Do nothing else.
>DT training exercises involving gun handling must be closely controlled by trainers. Allowing students out of your visual control is an invitation to disaster. It is best to use placebo guns for this kind of training. They are widely available.
>This same tragedy will probably be repeated in this agency before long, because nothing will be changed as a result of it. Administrators, timorous by nature, will predictably run for cover in the wake of anything like this, insisting upon their own innocence all the way. The result is that nothing ever changes, and the same thing thus happens again, and again. We trainers, therefore, must be the ones to make the critical changes necessary to preclude such tragedies. No one will ever do it for us.