Paper: Are Firearm-Mounted Flashlights Linked to Police Shootings?

Firearm-mounted flashlight and police gear (James Case / Flickr / CC)
James Case / Flickr / CC

The San Diego Union-Tribune is is raising questions about a possible relationship between firearm-mounted flashlights and police shootings.

The Tribune’s starting point is a February 20 incident in which San Diego officer Neal Browder accidentally fired his gun while trying to activate the flashlight mounted on it. No one was injured in the shooting, but the Tribune used it as an opportunity to revisit a fatal officer-involved shooting “less than a year” ago during which Browder shot and killed 42-year-old Fridoon Nehad.

Browder believed Nehad was approaching him with a knife, but it turned out to be a pen. Either way, the incident occurred at night, and Browder activated his firearm-mounted flashlight just before shooting Nehad. The Tribune is now asking whether that shooting might have been tied to a flashlight as well.

A “use-of-force expert” has reviewed the shooting and “does not think Browder mistakenly pulled the trigger when he meant to turn on the flashlight.”

There was a 2010 fatality in Plano, Texas, that occurred after a detective accidentally fired a round while trying to turn on his flashlight. The Denver Post reports the Plano shooting as one of five incidents nationally in which someone has been shot in a flashlight-related incident; the individuals in the other incidents were wounded, not killed.

SureFire — the manufacturer of the flashlight involved in the Plano shooting — was sued and settled in a “confidential” payout. Some police departments have since banned the use of firearm-mounted flashlights, while others have limited the style and/or brand of lights allowed.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at