Skip to comments.(NYC) Ex-city cop wins huge award after chair he sat in broke, sending bullet into his knee
Posted on 11/27/2008 11:50:44 PM PST by Coleus
It's ragged, ripped and unsteady, but you can call it the city's $4.5 million chair. Former New York City Detective Anderson Alexander was sitting in it in Brooklyn's 73rd Precinct on Jan. 1, 2002, when his partner handed him his gun so the partner could interview a suspect. Alexander leaned back to put the gun in his waistband, but the back of the chair gave way, his finger slipped and the 9-mm. Smith & Wesson fired a bullet into his left knee. Now, despite the best efforts of city lawyers to portray the 11-year veteran as a klutz, a Brooklyn jury has awarded Alexander $4,548,000 in damages. "This case is not about him shooting himself," Alexander's lawyer Matthew Maiorana told the Daily News. "This case is about a broken chair and an unsafe workplace.
"Anderson would give the money right back if he could have his job back and his knee back." Alexander, 49, who retired on a three-quarters-pay disability pension, moved to South Carolina, where he works as a sheriff's deputy. He declined comment. The city vowed to appeal. "While it is unfortunate that Mr. Alexander shot himself in the knee accidentally, there was scant proof the chair in which he was sitting was defective," said Fay Leoussis, the city's Tort Division chief. "And no proof at all that any supposed defect had been reported to anyone." There isn't even a chair anymore. Jurors had to settle for a blown-up picture of the ragged, ripped seat because the city somehow misplaced the chair.
"We had sent a letter to the precinct to preserve the chair," Maiorana said. "They couldn't produce it. "There were pictures of the chair from the crime scene unit. It looks worn, dilapidated and rundown. It's an ugly-looking chair." Alexander, a Navy veteran who was born and raised in Brooklyn, was a decorated second-grade detective assigned to the elite street crimes unit at the time. "This is a guy who took hundreds of guns off the street," Maiorana said. "He knew how to handle a gun." Holiday decorations were still around that New Year's Day as Alexander's partner, Peter Schrammel, handed him his 40-ounce gun for safe-keeping.
Alexander's service weapon was in a hip holster so, without standing up, he put Schrammel's in his waistband. As he leaned back, the chair back slipped and jerked him backward. As he tried to right himself, his finger slipped under the finger guard and the bullet discharged into Alexander's left leg, shattering a bone in his knee joint. "He's lucky in a sense that he didn't shoot himself somewhere else," Maiorana said. "He's not a klutz. He's a guy who just leaned back in a chair." The six-member jury deliberated six hours over two days after a three-week trial. On Nov. 18, it gave Alexander $500,000 for pain he's suffered, $1 million for future pain, $1.3 million for lost wages, $1.3 million for lost pension and the rest for future medical bills and other expenses.
An avid basketball, football and baseball player, Alexander can no longer be a "weekend warrior" and would need painful knee-replacement surgery to repair the damage, his lawyer said. Alexander made more than $90,000 a year before he retired, including overtime. He's earning more than $50,000 on disability pension, plus $24,000 as a sheriff's deputy. "He's a court officer, runs a metal detector," Maiorana said. "He does wear a gun. It sounds like it was a case about a gun. It wasn't a case about a gun. It was about the chair."
Some people play the lottery, some people play the courts.
Don’t know whether this is a legitimate claim, but many people do see opportunity for personal gain in accidents.
i think that his stupid and reckless behavior with the suspect’s pistol was a supervening cause of his accident. don’t see how the city could have lost on this one unless it had really bad representation.
Lean back in any four leg chair an it will fall apart. Not a klutz but a dumb ass.
> Dont know whether this is a legitimate claim, but many people do see opportunity for personal gain in accidents.
Here in New Zealand this would have gone absolutely nowhere.
The ex-cop would have received socialized medicine paid for by ACC (Accident Compensation Commission) — a “no fault” scheme. He would have received rehabilitation to the point where he could work again — also covered by ACC. If he required mods to his house or car to help him rehabilitate — also paid by ACC.
But no windfall riches: just enough to put you back — as near as possible — to where you were before the mishap.
OSH (Occupational Safety & Health) would have investigated the workplace and found the cop shop either guilty or no. If guilty, a fine would have been applied.
No personal injury lawsuits would have been possible: it is a legal concept not recognized in New Zealand.
The system works very well.
Probably the lawyer managed to show that the city had a duty to guarantee that the chair will not fail even if you really lean on the back. I don't know how heavy the Detective was back then, but most chairs are not designed to support 200+ lbs of pressure on the back.
I have also other concerns about this case - was the handgun on safety or not, was it supposed to be loaded or not, and whether it was proper to skip the holster thing and just shove it under the belt, and whether it would be wiser to put the gun in a drawer, or a safe, or even give it to the armorer. Maybe those who know will comment.
The millions aside, the guy draws a 3/4 pension AND has another city job where he will undoubtedly earn a second pension in time.
The harder I work to make my own livelihood, the more I think I have been a fool all this time. If I took a different path after college, today I’d be just a few years from my “20 and a pension” and I could move to a cheaper part of the country and start anew.
What is the first thing you do when someone hands you a gun?
“...What is the first thing you do when someone hands you a gun...?”
Clear the chamber.
Why wasn’t the safety on and was his partner disiplined?
This is load of BS. If he’s still able to work in his chosen profession, no big bucks deserved.
First smart question of the day....
I think the Detective could use this advice:
Whenever you pick up a gun, immediately engage the safety device if possible, and, if the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber(s) which should be clear of ammunition.
Could it be that the Detective, having taken "200+" guns off the street, gradually became too comfortable handling weapons? After all, he never shot himself before... until now.
In this light habits of that particular group of officers may appear somewhat unsafe if they routinely carry ready to fire handguns, with safety off, within their own offices. I'd better understand the lawsuit if it was claiming poor training.
Sounds like very poor handling of a strange firearm to me.
This guy needs an NRA refresher course or something.
I’m certainly no gun expert and not a trained peace officer but even I would never have treated the weapon so carelessly.
Place my finger on the trigger, and then lean back on my chair. That's the correct way to do it, isn't it?
Maybe I should look inside the barrel while doing that.
(Seriously though, this case is quite interesting. Gun handling basics have certain rules that should be followed, and what you asked should be the first one to be followed.)
Wonder if he was holding a cup of hot coffee also causing a burn in the crotch area maybe he can make a claim on that also how about a claim on not being able to finish his donut because of the fall.Some one should sue him for not putting the safety on before jamming it into his pants.The idiot.
You put your index finger through the trigger guard and spin the gun around like they used to do in those old western movies.
Well, the article just said "a 9mm S&W". If this was a Sigma series, it hasn't a traditional safety: just a extention on the trigger that has to be pulled first, and some people try to by pass this system. The proper proceedure for that (and any auto) is for one to remove the mag and empty the chamber...
P.S.- I just punched up the article, and it includes a picture of the weapon. It is not a Sigma. I am not familiar with this gun Maybe some one else is, but it looks like it has a button on the trigger...
In my opinion, this dopy cop vioalted basic firearm safety and deserves nothing from the jury.
1) Every gun is loaded.
2) He puts a loaded gun which was not cleared, nor mag removed, nor put on safety into his waist band. No department trains officers to do that.
3) He, not anyone else, put his fat finger on the trigger and shot himself in the knee, no one else did that. That is a negligent discharge and in most departments he would have been fired.
4) Never underestimate scumbag attorneys in the desire to take frivolous lawsuits to juries made up of inner city people with room temperature IQ’s.
5) The fact that this officer was collecting disability and working as a Sheriff’s Deputy in another state should have launched a fraud investigation.
There’s been a number of posts about the detective, but I was thinking about what must have gone through the mind of the suspect when this went down in the interrogation room. Holy S##t would just begin to describe it.
lean back and shove it towards yer johnson ??? 8^O
NDs are not the fault of chairs...
For what it’s worth, I read the article to say that this was not the suspect’s gun, but the partner’s gun.
I would assume that it is a rule that you can not interview a suspect alone while armed, so the partner gave his gun to the guy to hold while he was doing the interview.
The cops I have known do not unload every time they take it off or store it. So why would we expect it to be done here?
Playing devil’s advocate here, maybe he was sitting somewhere where he could not put the gun in a drawer or other storage place.
His partner hands him the gun and rather than sitting there holding a gun, he tucks it into his waistband. (the picture seems to show it’s not a large piece)
When he leans back, the chair breaks and he starts to fall backward. I would think under this senario your first instinct might be to grab the gun so it does not fall to the floor, thus he grabbed the gun the most natural way.
If the gun did not slide smoothly from his waistband, this might lead to him pulling the trigger as he fell backwards.
Just a thought.
That cop watched far too many movies.
I really can’t express how disgusted I am with a-hole cops in general, our “justice system” and NYC as a whole.
Take the magazine out.
Pull the slide back to eject the round and lock the slide.
You’re free to scratch your head with said pistol if you wish.
He had a negligent discharge in a police station. If I was the presiding judge I would have thrown the suit out, then angrily asked him “Why didn’t you follow proper firearm safety rules?” He nearly would have left with my shoe up where the sun doesn’t shine.
***What is the first thing you do when someone hands you a gun?***
Check to make sure it’s not loaded.
Of course it was loaded. He knew it was loaded.
It was his partner’s duty gun. Why would he unload it while he’s sitting there with a loaded gun in his holster?
Why unload it? Because somebody walking in, either not handcuffed or cuffed hands in the front, can pick it up and start taking shots.
It’s a safety issue. The cop that had the negligent discharge can probably barely handle one pistol, nevermind two.
NYPD issues Glocks, which don't have traditional safeties.
READ the article before posting, dummy.
Why was his finger in the trigger guard? Did he think he might have to shoot the other cop who was giving him the gun?
Or idiots in the jury box?
Except for the socialized medicine.
Still, the award was beyond excessive, considering the guy IS WORKING!!!
Let’s see, let me guess, he didn’t have the safety on, or this pistol isn’t equipped with a safety AND he forgot to unload it before sticking it into his belt. Got it. Wasn’t his fault it was the fault of his superiors who allowed such an untrained idiot to run loose on a police force!
Why unload it? Because somebody walking in, either not handcuffed or cuffed hands in the front, can pick it up and start taking shots.
Its a safety issue. The cop that had the negligent discharge can probably barely handle one pistol, nevermind two.
That’s why he stuck in his waistband. If he unloads it and then clears the chamber, he’s now sitting there with a shell, a magazine, and a pistol in his hands.
What does he do now? What if he has to go to the bathroom?
> Except for the socialized medicine.
The system works well INCLUDING the socialized medicine. This is because our economy and infrastructures have been custom-designed to include universal access to medicine as a spending priority.
You still end up paying for somebody else’s accident in the US: you just fool yourselves into thinking you don’t. Where did the four million dollars compensation for the clumsy cop come from? The tooth fairy?
If it came from the gummint you paid for it in taxes. If it came from an insurance company you paid for it in premiums. If it comes from a company’s bottom-line profit you pay for it in higher prices. No matter where it comes from you pay for it.
The only difference is, socialized medicine is a tad more transparent and just possibly more efficient.
no, if the law doesn’t provide a remedy by default, then the judge doesn’t turn the outcome of the case over to the jury.
Sorry; I would like to see less government involved in health care, not more. And I’m saying this as an RN who has to comply with stupid regs because of Medicare and Medicaid.
More government; less freedom