MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Police Association sued the City of Milwaukee over gun safety concerns on Monday.
Milwaukee police officers started using a P320 pistol made by Sig Sauer in July 2019.
In June 2021, Milwaukee Police Association said it filed a claim against the city, asking for the pistol to be “investigated and replaced” for “known safety concerns.”
The pistol is allegedly prone to going off without the trigger being pulled, a defect that has led to dozens of injuries over the past several years.
The Milwaukee Police Association said the department-issued handguns have inadvertently misfired three times in the last two years resulting in injuries to two officers.
Most recently, on Sept. 10, Milwaukee police said a 41-year-old police officer was injured when another officer’s gun went off while it was holstered. He was taken to the hospital and treated for his injuries. The officer is recovering.
In July 2020, Officer Adam Maritato, who is a party in the union’s lawsuit that was filed this week, was unintentionally shot in the leg by another officer’s holstered gun.
“It is unacceptable that we now have hundreds of cases around the country with known unintentional discharges and the city is failing to act,” Andrew Wagner, Milwaukee Police Association’s president, said in a statement.
The lawsuit alleged that when the city purchased the guns in 2019, it knew, or should have known, about the discharge and safety issues. It also said that during training for the weapons, the city “failed to disclose that the P320 had issues with discharging without a trigger pull, and the officers relied on the safety training to be accurate and complete.”
The lawsuit accused the city of endangering the safety of its officers and the public by issuing the firearm. The union asked a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge to force the city to pay damages for the officers’ injuries and to replace every department-issued P320 with another firearm.
George Abrahams, a 53-year-old Army veteran and painting contractor in Philadelphia, said he holstered his P320, put it in the pocket of his athletic pants and zipped it up before going downstairs. The veteran said his holstered Sig Sauer pistol discharged while he was going down the stairs, causing a serious leg injury. He filed a lawsuit against Sig Sauer.
In 2019, the unintentional discharge of a Philadelphia transit officer’s holstered P320 prompted SEPTA, the city’s transit agency, to remove all of its P320 handguns from service and replace them with Glocks.
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said he plans to meet with the police chief to discuss the pistol concerns. The police union said it has not heard of any plans or discussions to resolve the issue.
“The safety of Milwaukee Police officers is an extremely high priority for the mayor,” Johnson’s office said in a statement. “The first time the mayor was aware of concerns regarding the firearms in question was after the most recent unintended discharge.”
The police department echoed the mayor’s safety sentiment.
“The safety of our members is one of the Milwaukee police department’s highest priorities,” the department said in a statement. “MPD continues to consult with our legal team to explore all options. The cause of the discharge remains under investigation.”
The gun-maker has previously denied its pistol is defective, according to the Associated Press.
Sig Sauer has settled at least one federal class action lawsuit involving the P320, involving pistols made before 2017, offering refunds or replacement guns to purchasers. The pistol has been sold to both law enforcement and civilians.