A federal jury decided Monday that the Glock 17 semiautomatic pistol
carried by Knoxville Police officers is not unsafe.
The $7.2 million suit stemmed from the July 9, 1991 fatal shooting of
Cheryl Darlene Grant by Knoxville Police officer Danny Wagner.
The shooting occurred while Wagner was chasing Grant on foot with his gun
in hand. He grabbed Grant with his free hand and his gun discharged sending
a bullet into Grant's head.
Officer Vince Kanipe of the UT Police Department was on the scene and
testified at the trial.
Kanipe testified that he strapped his pistol into his holster in
preparation for pursuing Grant on foot, said Ronald L. Grimm, the attorney
who represented Glock Inc. and Glock Ges. M.B.H., which were named in the
The product liability suit held that the Glock 17 9mm pistol was "defective
and unreasonably dangerous." Tennessee law mandates that a product be
proved to be either defective or unreasonably dangerous to justify
rewarding damages, Grimm said.
The plaintiff's claim was that the Glock's five-pound trigger pull and
short trigger travel made the weapon unsafe for police use. A typical
revolver has a 10-12-pound trigger pull with the hammer down, and a 3-4-
pound trigger pull when cocked. The Glock has no external hammer and is
always fired in the hammer-down position.
Glock 17s are available in three different trigger pulls in the United
States: five-pounds, eight-pounds and eight-pounds with even pressure
throughout the trigger's travel. The Knoxville Police Department uses
Glock's with all three trigger mechanisms. At the time of the incident,
only five-pound mechanisms were in service, Grimm said.
The "slack" in the five-pound Glock's trigger travel was also cited as
unsafe by the plaintiff, Grimm said. The pistol has a 1/2-inch travel, but
only the last 1/10th-inch has five-pounds of resistance, Grimm said.
The defense held that human error, not a defective firearm, caused the
"You're not supposed to have your finger on the trigger until you're ready
to shoot, period." Grimm said, "And had Wagner not had his finger on the
trigger Grant wouldn't have been shot, period."
Mike Waggoner, a weapons expert for the Knoxville Police Department,
testified that Wagner violated the Police Department's handgun safety rules
when he ran with his weapon in his hand.
Jury declares weapon in shooting case safe
Published: Fri Jun 24, 1994 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 12:44 p.m.