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Posted: 6/9/2001 2:41:33 PM EDT
http://www.dallasnews.com/metro/stories/389193_shootmain_09me.html The Dallas Morning News: Metro 'More questions than answers' Police focus on why live ammo used in drill 06/09/2001 By Jason Trahan and Mark Wrolstad / The Dallas Morning News ARLINGTON – Police investigators sought Friday to explain how a weapon containing real ammunition ended up at a training exercise – in violation of widely accepted safety standards – and why the gun was fired, killing a popular officer. As Arlington police and the city mourned the death of Cpl. Joseph "Joey" Cushman, 27, investigators offered few details of the Thursday evening shooting, which was recorded by a surveillance camera, or even their department's protocol for training exercises and safety precautions. Related content • Corporal had a zest for life Police would not specifically say that the weapon that killed one of the department's most gifted officers should not have been at the tactical-training session at a junior high school. The corporal, who was awarded his stripes just a day earlier, suffered a fatal head wound from a round of live ammunition fired by Officer Kenneth Blane Shaw, the Tarrant County medical examiner's office confirmed. Live ammunition is banned from Arlington training sessions and cannot be fired by training weapons, which are specially manufactured or modified for safety, police said. That raised the likelihood that the fatal shot came from a police service weapon – either mistakenly drawn, or mistaken for a training weapon that fires only plastic projectiles filled with paint. "We're trying to make some sense out of it," said Sgt. James Hawthorne, a police spokesman. "The investigation is still continuing, but there are obviously more questions than answers at this point." The two were tactical officers and served as trainers for what was to have been a two-month training session. Officer Shaw, 32, and the six Arlington officers who witnessed the shooting have all been placed on what police called a routine three-day administrative leave. Five other officers at the training session were from the Stephenville Police Department. Checking the tape The shooting was videotaped by a mounted camera at Ousley Junior High in southeast Arlington, where tactical-team trainees had been attending after-hours sessions for two weeks. Police said they were studying the videotape and would not release it for the time being because it's part of the investigation. SAFETY PROCEDURES The Arlington Police Department has declined to disclose its gun safety procedures for training exercises, but here are the procedures for two local police agencies that use paint-tipped plastic bullets and specialized guns that fire them: The Dallas Police Department's SWAT unit, which uses plastic bullets and modified barrels on service weapons, has a safety officer inspect every firearm before the exercise. The safety officer is responsible for making sure service guns have been properly modified and that no live ammunition
Link Posted: 6/9/2001 2:44:12 PM EDT
is carried on the exercise field. Each barrel is visibly marked to show that it has passed inspection. Any trainee who notices an unmarked weapon may call a halt to the exercise. The Dallas County Sheriff's Department, which uses plastic bullets and special guns incapable of firing live ammunition, has a firearms instructor check each participant to make sure they leave their real guns or live ammunition off the exercise field. A sign to that effect is clearly posted on the exterior of a fake apartment building where such exercises take place. Cpl. Cushman, who followed his father into police work, was shot by the six-year veteran Shaw as 11 trainees watched the two carry out a drill intended to show them how to handle a gunman in a public place, such as a school or mall. Like Cpl. Cushman, who was his department's 1998 Rookie of the Year, Officer Shaw has been highly commended. He also was exonerated after an internal investigation after he fatally shot a drug suspect last year. The entire training group had finished a classroom session that lasted from 3 to 5:30 p.m., had taken a dinner break and was about to begin a role-playing maneuver just before 6:30 p.m. The two trainers first demonstrated what's called an "active shooter drill," enacting a one-on-one confrontation between a gunman and an officer. Cpl. Cushman volunteered for the role-playing exercise, Sgt. Hawthorne said. The officers, all wearing full tactical gear, stood close together in the school's foyer, watching and listening to Cpl. Cushman and Officer Shaw, when one shot was fired. "We don't know if they were wearing their duty weapons. That's the crux of the investigation," Sgt. Hawthorne said. "We're trying to determine where the live round and gun came from." Several officers from the East Arlington Police Service Center, where Cpl. Cushman was stationed, said department officials told them that Officer Shaw might have mistakenly picked up a service weapon from a nearby table that was supposed to hold only training weapons. Those included brightly marked, specially made guns that can fire only paint rounds. There also may have been service weapons that had been modified with a narrower, brightly marked barrel. "We don't know yet how the officers were interacting with one another when the shooting occurred," Sgt. Hawthorne said. "We're trying to determine what happened. Then we'll determine how and why." Stephenville Police Chief Roy Halsell declined to discuss what his officers had witnessed at the school. "They came back last night, and we had a guy come in and talk to them. ... They were all pretty shook up about it," he said. Mum on procedure
Link Posted: 6/9/2001 2:45:34 PM EDT
Although Arlington police have not detailed their training procedures and safety equipment, the events of Thursday night appear to have violated policies that are standard at many law enforcement agencies. The Dallas Police Department, the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms all prohibit regular service weapons and live ammunition at any training exercise. The agencies also require the presence of a safety officer, who is responsible for inspecting every weapon and plainly marking its barrel before an exercise can begin. Like the Arlington department, most agencies nationwide use plastic-tipped bullets known as Simunition, made by a Canadian company. They leave a splotch of dye on impact and can be fired only by the easily identified training weapons or altered service weapons. Built-in safety measure Brian Berger, general manager of Simunition's Connecticut plant, said the system was designed to guarantee that no live ammunition could be fired through one of the conversion barrels. Conversely, Mr. Berger said, there would be no reason to take a regular duty weapon onto a training field because plastic bullets cannot be fired from them. "The system is designed such that the barrel diameter is smaller than that of a live round," Mr. Berger said. The Dallas Police Department's SWAT team uses Simunition and the barrel-changing system, but no officer is allowed to bring an unmodified weapon or live ammunition to an exercise, officials said. An internal investigation into Thursday's shooting will take up to 30 days. In the meantime, Arlington has suspended all training sessions. A criminal investigation also is being conducted. The results will be forwarded to a Tarrant County grand jury, which will determine whether Officer Shaw should be indicted.
Link Posted: 6/9/2001 2:46:28 PM EDT
Officer Shaw, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran with a criminal-justice degree from Sam Houston State University, joined the Arlington force in January 1995 and has been on the tactical unit for two years. In addition to 28 commendations, he received a reprimand in 1997 for an unauthorized search and one in 2000 for failing to correctly operate a vehicle. An internal investigation cleared him after he fatally shot Raymond J. Sanchez Jr., 48, on Jan. 26, 2000, during a drug raid at a carwash. A Tarrant County grand jury also declined to indict Officer Shaw. Officer Shaw spent Friday at his Mansfield home, and he did not return calls seeking comment. Friends and fellow officers dropping by to offer support said he wouldn't comment. Neighbors' testimonials A neighbor said Officer Shaw is the kind of person who drops what he's doing to help others. "I can ask him to do anything," said Norman Bantz, 70, whose son also works for the Arlington Police Department. "He's a real good police officer. It's a terrible tragedy that he will have to live with." Ben Gore, another neighbor, called the officer a "nice, responsible man." "When we first moved here a couple years ago, he came by and invited us to his church," said Mr. Gore, 60. Sgt. Hawthorne described Officer Shaw as "experienced and highly disciplined" and "a stickler for following policy and procedure." "He's having difficulty dealing with what happened," Sgt. Hawthorne said. "This has been a rough situation to deal with. It will take some time to sort through everything and make sense of what happened, but we'll pull through it and answer the tough questions and provide honest answers." The officers were specifically training future tactical-team members for incidents like the slayings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Now, officers in two departments are wearing black bars across their badges. Cpl. Cushman, with his exceptional reputation, is not the only one being remembered. At City Hall on Friday, spokeswomen Danetta Chubé and Cheryel Carpenter, who work for the police department and the city, respectively, shared in the commiseration of residents and employees alike. One passer-by stopped to say, "If you see Blane, tell him he's in our prayers." Staff writers Gene Abrahamson, Patrick Wascovich, Kevin Shay, Bob Schober and Todd Bensman contributed to this report. Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/metro/stories/389193_shootmain_09me.html © 2001 DallasNews.com
Link Posted: 6/9/2001 3:12:52 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/9/2001 3:10:58 PM EDT by erickm]
Originally Posted By warlord: Ben Gore, another neighbor, called the officer (shaw) a "nice, responsible man."
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it must be the last name gore that makes them delusional.
Link Posted: 6/9/2001 3:20:32 PM EDT
erick, Its really unfair to stereotype someone because of their name. If this stuff ever catches on the ACLU will be out there talking about surname impaired people's rights. Regards, Michael Hitler
Link Posted: 6/9/2001 10:31:36 PM EDT
BTT for those that missed it the first time.
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