Officer shot in leg after his gun went off spontaneously, Winnipeg police say

An officer shot by his own weapon last week didn't have his hands anywhere near his gun, Winnipeg police say.
Police cars surround the entrance to a Sobeys on Taylor Avenue in Winnipeg after an officer's gun went off while inside his holster. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

An officer shot by his own weapon last week didn't have his hands anywhere near his gun, Winnipeg police say.

The bullet severed three arteries and the officer likely saved his life by quickly tying the wound off with a tourniquet.

The officer was taking part in a firearms training course on Aug. 7 when he and his partner went to a store on Taylor Avenue to get some lunch about 1 p.m., Const. Jay Murray said.

The officer, who had his gun in his holster, opened the car door with one hand while holding his lunch with the other.

As the officer sat down, the gun went off, shooting him in the lower leg.

"The bullet entered the right side of his leg and severed three arteries," Murray said. "He described it to me as the most amount of blood he's seen. This officer's been on for eight years and a number of years with the tactical support team, and he said it was like something out of a movie."

Winnipeg police say the officer was taken to hospital and is in stable condition. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Police are investigating whether the weapon, a Glock 35, was faulty and if there have been similar incidents in other police departments. Murray said the investigation is being overseen by Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health.

The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba told CBC News it is not doing its own investigation because it has not received a formal report. The unit investigates serious incidents involving police officers.

Murray told CBC that police didn't submit a report to the unit because the incident did not meet the required elements in legislation governing the IIU.

At the moment, there are no concerns about the type of gun tactical officers carry, Murray said.

"Officers with the tactical support team, they've all examined their weapons," he said.

Firearms unit officers are investigating the officer's gun to determine exactly what happened.

"Once that's known, then we can proceed further to see if this is a bigger issue or if it was isolated to this firearm," Murray said.

The officer remains in hospital, and the bullet is still in his leg.

What is a tactical tourniquet?

The officer used a Winnipeg Police Service-issued tactical tourniquet to stop his bleeding.

It's similar to a regular tourniquet, but made of Velcro and nylon, said Sgt. Shane Cooke, a 21-year member of the tactical support team who gave media a demonstration.

"It's very simple to use," he said. "If you have a belt and a pen you can mimic something like this, but this is something that allows us to self-apply very quickly."

The tourniquet is placed around the limb and tightened to cut off blood flow, preventing blood loss. 

Members of the tactical support team have carried the tourniquet since 2011, Murray said. In 2017, the police service purchased 1,000 to distribute to all front-line officers. They all learned to use them as part of their first aid training, which is refreshed every three years.

The tourniquets have been used 10 times since 2011, but this was the first time it was used on an officer, said Murray.