An incident in Cleveland two years ago is shedding some light on just how difficult it is to train properly a new police officer for all the situations he or she might encounter after beginning work in the real world.
In a twist, this shooting was a friendly fire incident. And now Bailey Gannon is being sued by his former partner, Jennifer Kilnapp, who says Gannon panicked and “blindly” shot her when they confronted a man standing with a gun in a boarding house bathroom, according to a federal lawsuit.
Kilnapp says Gannon — after he opened a second-floor bathroom door without warning of police presence — saw the man whose handgun was at his side, pointed at the floor, and ran. In fleeing down the steps, he seems to have fired recklessly a shot from over his head. That shot hit Kilnapp, severely injuring her and leaving her unable to return to duty.
Further, she alleges Gannon later lied to investigators about the man with the gun, claiming he was holding it with both hands and pointing it toward the door.
If the allegations in the lawsuit are accurate, Gannon should have been disciplined for “firing blindly over his head while running in the other direction, even though his actions flagrantly violated the most basic gun-safety rules.” But according to the lawsuit, he was not, and in fact, the incident was described as only a “minor setback” by a supervisor.
Could different training have helped Gannon avoid such a horrific mistake? Could better evaluation techniques have ensured Gannon was identified as someone not yet ready to be sent into action? Perhaps. It is always easy to make such assumptions in hindsight.
What is certain, however, is that the incident hammers home how important it is for new law enforcement officers to receive the best, most extensive and thorough training possible; and that in this era of staffing shortages on police forces, supervisors need to be realistic about who is ready to do the job and who is not.