The handgun found last week on the floor of Shea’s Performing Arts Center during a “Sesame Street Live” performance was loaded.
The off-duty officer, who owned the weapon, brought it to the performance, and it fell out of his pocket. The gun was not police-issued.
Those are some of the facts that investigators have learned as the Buffalo Police Department considers bringing departmental charges against the officer, police sources said Tuesday.
Department officials have declined to comment, but the police sources said that there was particular concern that the incident in the downtown theater occurred during an event geared for children.
“What if a child had picked up the gun?” one of the police sources said.
The officer’s name has not been released.
An usher first saw the weapon on the floor and thought it was a child’s toy. But a nearby federal law enforcement official who was attending the same performance took the weapon and turned it over to security at the downtown theater.
The off-duty officer, police sources said, had gone to the performance with his family.
An Internal Affairs Division investigation is continuing.
Police sources have said the gun should have been better secured, rather than placed in a pocket.
On the overall policy of carrying firearms, city officers receive intensive training that requires them to take special care in keeping not only their department-issued handgun, but any other firearms they may own, safe and secure.
“People don’t normally drop a gun,” one of the police sources said.
“You could maybe see it happening if the gun was in an ankle holster and the officer was chasing a suspect.”
Incidents of police losing their guns are extremely rare. In fact, it is so uncommon that when they do occur, it usually involves a burglary at the home of a member of law enforcement, rather than the officer losing a weapon in a public setting.