December 8, 2021

Detective Brittney Hilton sues Sig Sauer after she says holstered P320 pistol seriously wounded her

BRIDGE CITY, Texas — Det. Brittney Hilton had no thought she had simply been shot. All she mentioned she felt at first was an unimaginable quantity of ache, and a “very sick feeling.”

“I was cold at some points, shaking. The fear kind of takes over, the adrenaline takes over,” Hilton advised ABC Information. “I just said, ‘Am I going to die?'”

“I said, ‘Please just tell my kids that I love them and don’t let them find out on social media that I’ve been shot,'” she continued. “I didn’t know if I was going to make it to the hospital.”

Hilton, a mother of three who has been with the Bridge Metropolis, Texas, Police Division for 11 years, mentioned the bullet got here inside one millimeter — the sting of a penny — from killing her.

However what Hilton mentioned she additionally did not notice at first was that the bullet had come from her personal service gun, a semi-automatic pistol referred to as the P320. It was nonetheless holstered inside her purse, based on the police report.

Hilton is now suing gunmaker Sig Sauer over the December 2020 incident.
“Never, in my wildest dreams, would I have believed that my gun would just have shot me,” she mentioned. “Gun owners don’t want to think that their gun can just go off without the trigger being pulled.”

Sig Sauer’s P320 is broadly utilized by police departments throughout the nation, and is a giant vendor within the civilian market, with about half 1,000,000 bought nationwide.

However now, P320 is the topic of a number of lawsuits in reference to incidents like Hilton’s, the place homeowners declare the weapon fired with out the set off being pulled.

Hilton mentioned she was contained in the Bridge Metropolis Police station when her gun went off. She nonetheless has the purse with the bullet gap within the backside.

“I picked up my bag, my keys were on top,” she mentioned. “As I walked around my desk, my purse swings out and it shoots out the bottom of my bag.”

It occurred so quick, Hilton mentioned, that she did not course of what was occurring at first, however she smelled the gunpowder.

“And then I took one step, and I felt this pain. It felt like a hot rod of metal had just been placed not only in my private, but through my leg,” she mentioned. “and it [the bullet] exits out [of] my lower buttocks.”

Hilton mentioned she nonetheless has ache from her harm.

“There’s never a point that I’m really not in pain unless I’m laying down,” she mentioned.

Legal professional Jeffrey Bagnell represents Hilton and a number of other different law enforcement officials who’ve filed particular person lawsuits towards Sig Sauer over the P320.

“I think it’s a very, very serious safety problem for law enforcement and for the public at large,” Bagnell mentioned. “I’m not aware of any other semi-automatic pistol today that has this problem.”

Hilton’s $15 million lawsuit mentioned, “there have been 54 reported uncommanded discharges of the P320,” that means the gun went off by itself, over the past 5 years in 22 states and Washington, D.C.

Sig Sauer didn’t reply to ABC Information’ request for remark. The gunmaker has beforehand denied legal responsibility for these incidents and, in some instances, blamed the plaintiffs for negligence. The gunmaker mentioned in an August 2017 press launch that “the P320 meets and exceeds all U.S. standards for safety.”

After Hilton’s incident, the Bridge Metropolis Police Division had Sig Sauer look at the gun. In Sig Sauer’s response to the Bridge Metropolis Police Division after Hilton’s incident, the corporate contends that “a foreign object entered the trigger guard (causing) the pistol to discharge.”

Hilton disputes that, saying the gun was holstered in her purse and that it will be close to unimaginable for one thing to wedge contained in the holster and be sufficient to tug the set off.

“I’m very pro-gun,” Hilton mentioned. “But this gun is so dangerous, and it just scares me that there are so many out there that don’t know the potential it has to go off.”

There are at present 10 pending lawsuits towards Sig Sauer for this specific firearm, all alleging the gun went off by itself. Plenty of these suing the gunmaker mentioned they’re in regulation enforcement with in depth firearms expertise.

“It’s not credible to claim that people with this amount of training, this amount of skill are all shooting themselves,” Bagnell mentioned. “These are experts. It’s happening all over the country. … you would have to conclude there’s a problem with the product, not with the people.”

Virginia Sheriff’s Deputy Marcie Vadnais was injured in 2018 when she mentioned her P320 handgun went off by itself as she was eradicating the weapon from her belt, nonetheless in its holster. She mentioned the bullet hit her within the thigh and shattered her femur.

Sig Sauer settled her lawsuit, with out admitting wrongdoing, for an undisclosed sum of money the day after the jury heard Vadnais testify at first of the trial.

Vadnais mentioned she needs the gun off the market.

“I saw what it did to me. I saw what it did to my family. And I don’t want that to happen to anybody else,” she mentioned.

Bagnell mentioned he is been urgent Sig Sauer to recall the P320 for years, noting that firearms are usually not topic to any federal security rules.

“If this were a car, a phone, a refrigerator, it would’ve been recalled long, long ago,” Bagnell mentioned. “So I think it is unconscionable, given the number of incidents of this gun defectively discharging without a trigger pull would necessitate that someone order it to be recalled, and only Sig can do that.”

Whereas Sig Sauer has continued to dispute that there’s something unsuitable with the P320, the corporate provided what it referred to as a “voluntary upgrade” in 2017, saying, “the upgraded P320 has lighter internal components, including a new thinner-profile trigger and a lighter sear and striker. These upgrades will enhance the protection against unintended discharges if the pistol is dropped.”

Then the gunmaker started manufacturing all P320s with the improve.

Vadnais’ P320 handgun was not the upgraded model, nonetheless, Hilton’s P320 was the upgraded model and her lawyer is satisfied the modifications haven’t mounted the issue.

“The defect has not been addressed,” mentioned Bagnell.

Peter Villani is a veteran police officer with 35 years of expertise, together with as a firearms teacher and a Sig Sauer-certified armorer — somebody who’s licensed to restore and examine a firearm — of the P320. He mentioned he believes there are design flaws and manufacturing points with the firearm.

“I carry Sig. I own Sig. I just don’t own a [P]320, nor would I ever,” he advised ABC Information, referring to all fashions of the P320 pistol, together with the upgraded model.

Villani, who’s an professional witness for Hilton in her lawsuit, mentioned he started investigating the P320 after an officer in his police division was injured by an upgraded model of the gun.

He additionally referred to physique digicam footage captured in 2016 that reveals an officer’s P320 firing as he was getting out of his cruiser throughout a site visitors cease.

“Something hit my leg,” the officer might be heard saying on the video. “I don’t know if I’m shot or what… I just for the life of me can’t figure out how that went off.”

A second officer whose physique digicam captured the incident responded: “Yeah, because there’s no– your seat belt wouldn’t have–“

“No, the trigger was completely covered,” the primary officer mentioned. “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know… I’m glad you’re my witness.”

“When I see videos of police officers getting out of their car and their weapon discharges in their holsters … There’s a problem with the gun,” Villani mentioned.

Firearms professional and ABC Information guide Joshua Harrison agrees there was an issue with the P320, however he believes it has been mounted.

“There were a lot of changes. It was expensive, and they would not have done that for no reason at all,” Harrison advised ABC Information. “In my opinion, the only reason Sig would have done that is if they knew there was a safety problem with the original gun, otherwise they would not have done it.”

Harrison mentioned if certainly there are instances of the upgraded variations of the gun firing on their very own, it’s unclear what can be inflicting them to take action.

“I have not seen enough to convince me that the upgraded version’s dangerous,” Harrison mentioned. “I do not have an explanation for why the updated version should have these complaints from trained individuals. If it’s not legal momentum, then it would have to be some other mechanism of failure.”

Nonetheless, there are at the very least two police departments that had security considerations in regards to the P320 and changed it with a distinct gun.

In Philadelphia, the transit police SEPTA swapped out its P320s for Glocks after considered one of its officers had a P320 go off unexpectedly in 2019. The bullet in that case narrowly missed the officer and a lady close by.

In Stamford, Connecticut, an officer sued Sig Sauer after he says he dropped his P320 and it shot him within the knee. That division changed all P320s in 2017.

Hilton mentioned her division in Bridge Metropolis is ordering new weapons, however within the meantime, a lot of its officers nonetheless carry the modified model of the P320 pistol.

“I have a lot of anxiety every day [over this],” Hilton mentioned. “The fact that I carried my purse into my house every single day and my children were at home … Sig put their life at risk. Sig knows they put their life at risk.”

She mentioned she continues to dwell with the bodily and emotional scars from her incident.

“I think that this gun needs to be removed from the shelf,” Hilton mentioned. “I hope it doesn’t take something fatal, and I’m hoping by bringing awareness to the public that maybe it’ll bring attention to Sig to say, ‘Hey, this gun’s an issue, and before it gets someone killed, take it off the shelf. Stop manufacturing this gun. Find a different solution.'”