Troy Police officer injured during training exercise files federal lawsuit against gunmaker

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TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Veteran Troy Police Sgt. Michael Colwell says he lives in daily pain and unable to do the job he loves. He says it’s all due to a horrible incident when he says his department issued semi-automatic weapon fired without him ever touching the trigger.

Back in June, Troy Police Detective Sgt. Michael Colwell was taking part in a routine training exercise with live ammunition when he says his department issued handgun, which he says was holstered, went off by itself.

Colwell told NEWS10’s Anya Tucker what happened:

“[I] holstered my department issued handgun. And the gun fired. My hands were off it. Didn’t have a trigger pulled. It fired and sent out a bullet through my leg. Next thing you know, I was on the ground getting a tourniquet on my leg. And the scramble was on to get me to the hospital,” he said.

Anya asked if, in the moment, he thought that maybe a fellow officer had accidentally shot him.

“I didn’t know where it came from. It wasn’t until I looked down at my pants that I said, ‘Yeah, there’s a problem going on here,'” he recalled.

Colwell’s Troy Police Department issued P320 is manufactured by New Hampshire-based gun maker SIG Sauer. On Wednesday, Sgt. Colwell filed a lawsuit in federal court against SIG Sauer claiming negligence, breach of contract, and deceptive marketing practices.

“No gun should fire without the trigger being pulled. And the P320, we are hearing this happened again and again,” said Colwell’s attorney Robert Zimmerman, who is a partner with Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky.

In the complaint, Colwell’s attorney lists dozens of accounts of the P320 misfiring — sometimes causing serious injury and even death. Most of the instances involved a law enforcement department issued P320 handgun.

Zimmerman, who represents other plaintiffs with similar claims, says the problem is with the trigger.
He says the mechanism has a “loose fit and rollover” on the safety lock and with the striker pins safety stopper that contribute to a failure. He says the gun’s safety can slip, and when that happens, it can inadvertently fire.

In 2017, SIG Sauer came out with a voluntary modification for purchasers of the weapon. Around the same time, the manufacturer sent out a statement reassuring the P320s safety. The statement read in-part, “Like any mechanical device, exposure to things like acute vibration or heavy or repeated drops may have a negative effect on these safety mechanisms.”

But Zimmerman says he has seen misfirings without a trigger pull even after the modification.

Based on the date Colwell’s weapon was issued by Troy Police in 2018, Zimmerman said he feels it is likely that Colwell’s gun received this upgrade.

NEWS10 asked the Troy Police if they stopped using the P320 in light of Colwell’s injury and other similar reported incidents. Police Chief Dan DeWolf emailed a response saying the department continues to use the SIG Sauer P320 handgun and that he could not comment further due to the potential pending litigation.

Sgt. Colwell, who is a married dad of three, says he has trouble running and even walking. He remains on paid leave.

Anya reached out to SIG Sauer several times for comment on this most recent lawsuit. They did not respond as of Nov. 3.

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