Suit Filed in Police Shooting Blamed on Flashlight Mishap

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Tuesday, Dec 14, 2010  |  Updated 10:30 PM CDT
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The family of <a title=Michael Alcala have filed a lawsuit against Plano police after an officer accidentally shot a suspect. The officer said he was only trying to turn on his flashlight." />

Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com

The family of Michael Alcala have filed a lawsuit against Plano police after an officer accidentally shot a suspect. The officer said he was only trying to turn on his flashlight.

The family of a man who was killed by a Plano police officer trying to turn his flashlight on filed a lawsuit against the city Tuesday.

Michael Anthony Alcala, 25, was shot Oct. 13 in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant while an officer was arresting him on suspicion of offering to sell heroin.

In a sworn statement, the officer told Dallas police that he accidentally pulled the trigger on his gun while trying to activate his gun-mounted flashlight.

Dallas police investigated the case and presented it to a Collin County grand jury, which declined to charge the officer.

Les Weisbord, the attorney for Alcala's family, said Plano police provided the SureFire X300 model flashlight to the officer over the summer but failed to properly train him in its use.

"It seems to me to be an inherently dangerous design," Weisbord said. "It's my understanding that the Dallas police force and the surrounding police agencies do not use this particular setup."

"This has been devastating to my entire family," said Alcala's mother, Belinda Saldana. "Now we just visit him at the cemetery instead of talking to him a couple of times a week."

Texas law limits lawsuits against municipalities to $250,000 in damages.

Weisbord said the family's lawsuit is intended to provide money for Alcala's 2-year-old son as well as to get Plano to stop using the device.

"That gun should be taken away because we wouldn't want this to happen to anyone else," said Nancy Nava, Alcala's wife.

The officer's name has not been released because he works undercover. He remains on administrative leave facing possible discipline by the Plano Police Department.

Plano police spokesman Officer Rick McDonald confirmed that specialized units still use the weapon-mounted flashlight, but he said the department has no comment on the lawsuit.


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