LODI, CA - Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt after an officer's gun unintentionally discharged during a SWAT demonstration.
"This should have never happened, especially in an environment where children were present," Lodi Police Chief Mark Helms said. "As peace officers, we have a responsibility to the public to ensure our weapons and equipment are properly safeguarded. We're fortunate this event didn't result in a tragedy."
Lodi police were showing off SWAT equipment during the second annual "Little Buckaroos Reading Round-up" on Aug. 24. During a demonstration to a group of children inside a SWAT vehicle, a 6- to 8-year-old boy walked up behind the officer and pulled the trigger on his Glock .4 caliber handgun, which was secured in a holster.
"According to the witnesses, [the child] was able to walk up to the officer, and was able to manipulate his handgun while it was in the holster, causing it discharge," Lodi Police Lt. Sierra Brucia said. "And then the round actually fired down the officer's leg and into the pavement."
The child immediately ran from the area.
Officer Robert Rench, an Iraq war Marine Corps. veteran, suffered a minor grazing wound.
The department is now trying to figure out how this happened. Rench was carrying his Glock in a thigh holster that may have provided the boy with easier access. Brucia said the internal investigation is focusing both on equipment and procedures at events.
"We've already been in contact with the manufacturer of the holster to see if there's any design changes since the time that we purchased those holsters," Brucia explained. "And obviously new products come out over time and stuff like that. And that will all be part of the review. Again, like I said, our biggest focus is how this occurred in the first place and how to prevent it from occurring in the future."
Police would like to speak to the child who pulled the trigger only to better understand how the incident occurred. However, they don't know the boy's identity.