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Officer’s gun that fired inside Massachusetts school is latest Sig Sauer incident

Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, where earlier this week a police officer's gun unintentionally discharged.
Robin Lubbock/WBUR
Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, where earlier this week a police officer's gun unintentionally discharged.

A veteran Cambridge, Mass. police officer’s gun discharged inside of a public school staff bathroom earlier this week, the latest instance of a Sig Sauer P320 pistol allegedly firing without an intentional trigger pull.

Cambridge Police confirmed this is the fourth time a P320 pistol unexpectedly discharged since the force adopted the gun as its duty weapon in 2018. The department said it is investigating the incident.

Sig Sauer’s P320 is one of the country’s most popular pistols among civilians and law enforcement agencies, but it has been plagued by allegations — and lawsuits — claiming that it can fire without a trigger pull due to a design or mechanical flaw.

(Click here to read more of NHPR’s coverage of Sig Sauer)

Sig Sauer, which is based in Newington, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the latest allegation of an unintentional discharge of its gun, but it has previously maintained that the weapon is safe.

On Tuesday, Cambridge Officer Frank Greenidge was inside a staff bathroom at Rindge and Latin High School, when, according to a department spokesperson, he “removed his department issued firearm from its holster and it unintentionally discharged. There were no injuries and the school day continued uninterrupted.”

Greenidge has been with the Cambridge police force since 1987, and was assigned to the school as a youth resource officer.

The Cambridge Police Patrol Officers Association, the union representing Cambridge police, didn’t respond to a request for comment about the shooting.

In May 2019, another veteran Cambridge police officer, Lieutenant Thomas Ahern, was inside a SWAT van with six other officers when he alleges his P320 discharged without his finger touching the trigger. The bullet, according to court paperwork, “deflected off a magnet affixed to his cellphone in his left pocket, entered an equipment bag on the floor of the van, and came to rest inside a ballistic helmet. The spent casing of the round remained stuck in the weapon’s ejection port, demonstrating another defect with the build quality of the P320.”

Ahern filed a civil lawsuit against Sig Sauer and the City of Cambridge, allegedging the gun has a flaw that makes it prone to “uncommanded discharges.” Sig Sauer denies the allegation and has sought to dismiss the case, which is still pending in a federal court in Massachusetts.

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The city has not released information about the other two discharges involving Cambridge police.

There are dozens of other lawsuits in federal courts across the country involving Sig Sauer P320 pistols allegedly firing without a trigger pull. In 2022, a New Hampshire federal judge denied a proposed class action case involving the weapon. In a separate case, a Hillsborough man who was shot in the thigh by his own P320 following a dog walk was unable to convince a jury that the company was liable for the injury, though a judge wrote in a legal opinion that she found his story credible.

Sig Sauer, headquartered in Newington with additional manufacturing facilities around the Seacoast, is one of New Hampshire’s largest private employers.

In 2023, the company said it has manufactured and sold more than 2.5 million P320 pistols to civilians, law enforcement agencies and the U.S. military, which chose a modified version of the P320 as the new sidearm for soldiers.

According to government and court records, the U.S. Army discovered the P320 could fire when dropped at certain angles in 2016 during extensive testing. In response, the company modified its design and offered what it calls a ‘voluntary upgrade’ for previous versions of the gun, including swapping out the trigger.

Sig Sauer maintains that the gun in both its original and modified form is safe.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University. He can be reached at tbookman@nhpr.org.