MORGAN HILL, Calif. (KTVU) - Police in Morgan Hill are calling it a mistake, after a veteran officer accidentally fires his gun. The bullet ricocheted off the ground and a fragment injured a 14-year-old girl.
The chief said the girl's prognosis is good. She’s recovering at home and has been released from the hospital. The chief knows it could have been worse. The officer is now on paid leave.
Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing issued a rare apology Tuesday night after one of his officers accidentally fired his gun.
“We definitely apologize for the injuries that occurred but what's important to understand, it was not an intentional act,” said Chief Swing.
It happened Sunday night, after police spotted a stolen van with three teenagers. A 16-year-old driver led police on a high-speed chase. The pursuit ended at the intersection of Del Monte and Llagas in Morgan Hill. The van crashed into a fire hydrant, taking out a light pole.
The officer accidentally discharged his gun. A bullet fragment struck the 14-year-old girl near her eye as she and a second passenger, a 15-year-old girl, exited the van.
“An officer was directing them to the ground and had his firearm pointed at the ground not at the girls and inadvertently discharged a round from his service weapon,” said Chief Swing.
The chief said the gun was not in its holster. The details as to how and why the gun went off are under investigation.
“The officer involved is remorseful for what happened,” said Chief Swing. “We certainly wish her a full and complete recovery as quickly as possible.”
“It sounded like nothing I had ever seen before or heard before,” said Rick McGlinn of Morgan Hill. “It was a thunder or boom.”
McGlinn heard the crash, describing a chaotic scene that unfolded fast for the officers on scene.
“Look at the situation she put herself in,” said McGlinn. “The police are trying to protect us and things like that don't happen a lot around here.”
Police said the officer is a 23-year veteran. They are not releasing his name. The chief said Morgan Hill Police has not had an officer involved shooting in 15 years. They're not releasing body camera video at this time.