Witness protection officer shoots himself in thigh on police HQ range

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 April, 2011, 12:00am


An officer from the witness protection unit shot himself in the thigh when his pistol accidentally discharged during tactical training at the police headquarters in Wan Chai.

The 48-year-old station sergeant was believed to have pressed the trigger when he was pulling the gun out of its holster on an indoor shooting range yesterday morning.

He was taken to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam and was in stable condition last night.

Police Inspectors Association vice-chairman Benjamin Tsang Chiu-fo said the officer might have pulled the gun out too quickly.

He said officers were trained not to put their finger on the trigger unless taking aim. 'It is clearly stated that unless you aim at a target, you cannot put your finger on the trigger,' he said.

The elite unit uses Glock semi-automatic pistols, rather than the .38 revolvers used by uniformed officers.

As members of the unit could be required to act quickly, police protocol allowed them not to apply a safety lock in some cases to enable them to pull the gun and fire quickly, a police officer said. 'Their guns are easier to discharge accidentally,' he said.

Members of the witness protection unit, comprising 30 to 40 officers who provide protection to witnesses in serious crime cases, receive different training from uniformed and beat officers. Their training emphasises quick reactions and agility.

The officer, who asked not to be named, said that while uniformed officers only received firing practice four times a year, officers from the elite unit had sessions several times a week - and before each, a briefing on safe use of guns was given.

Junior Police Officers' Association chairman Gary Wong Ching said yesterday's accident was an isolated incident.

'We have very strict regulations on the use of guns, such as not pointing the barrel at anybody at any time during practice,' he said.

A police spokesman said initial investigation found that the incident was an accident.

Two weeks ago, a retired correctional services officer shot himself in the leg when the rifle he was cleaning discharged accidentally in his Sham Shui Po home.

He was later arrested for possessing more than 100 firearms.

An officer from the police airport security unit discharged his Glock accidentally when he returned the pistol to the weapons storage room in the police station after finishing his duty in April last year. No one was hurt.