After Shooting, St. Louis Police Study Friendly Fire

An off-duty officer was wounded June 21 when he was shot by a police colleague. Though friendly fire incidents are rare, St. Louis is considering whether further training is needed.

After an off-duty St. Louis police officer was wounded by “friendly fire” from a fellow officer looking for suspects after a stolen vehicle crashed late last month, the department is looking at whether more training might help, reports the city’s Post-Dispatch. The police department is forming a committee to decide how best to train officers for such encounters. In the June 21 incident, an off-duty officer was shot in the elbow by another officer after a police chase involving suspects inside a stolen car. People inside the car opened fire on police during the chase, police say.

Experts say friendly fire incidents are extremely rare. This is the third time it’s happened in the St. Louis area in the past 25 years. A St. Louis County officer was killed by a fellow officer in an undercover drug deal in 1997. Nationally, little research has been done on the topic because its rarity makes it difficult to draw meaningful conclusions or suggest best practices, said David Klinger, a criminologist with the University of Missouri-St. Louis who specializes in use-of-force issues.