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ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. -- An attorney for Austrian gun maker Glock said his client can't be held responsible for the shooting of an off-duty Los Angeles police officer by his toddler son while the officer was driving in his hometown of Anaheim.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges Glock sold the gun with a safety that was "non-existent or ineffective."
In addition, the suit alleges negligence on the part of Uncle Mike's, the maker of the gun's holster; Turner Outdoorsman, the store where the officer bought the holster; and the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club, where the officer bought the gun.
"It would appear to me this is a no-liability situation," said John Renzulli, a White Plains, N.Y.-based attorney representing Glock. "It's a tragic situation. But we're a system based on fault, and there is no fault on Glock's part."
On July 11, 2006, Enrique Herrera Chavez was driving his pickup in north Anaheim with his then 3-year-old son in the back seat when the boy got a hold of the handgun, Anaheim police said. The boy fired once through the driver's seat.
The bullet struck Chavez and exited through his chest, according to Anaheim police. The suit says he was paralyzed from the waist down.
Investigators said the boy was not restrained at the time of the shooting.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office considered child endangerment charges against Chavez but did not file them.
The incident left Chavez unable to care for himself or his family and has strained his marriage, the lawsuit says.
The suit seeks unspecified damages.
Glock has yet to file an official response to the lawsuit, but Renzulli said he wonders how the gun wound up in the child's hands.
"It's mind-boggling to me, absolutely mind-boggling, especially for a police officer who knows better," he said. "Guns need to be treated with respect."
Chavez's Santa Monica-based attorney, Justin Ehrlich, did not respond to several phone calls seeking comment.
In 2006 and 2007, Ehrlich represented Josefina Martin, who had third-degree burns after her dress caught fire at a Catholic church in Pacoima. She said she'd closed her eyes to pray and reached for the foot of the statue when she realized her clothing was aflame.
She sued, alleging negligence against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the archbishop and the maker of her skirt. The suit was settled last year, a day before a jury trial was to have started. The settlement's terms were not disclosed.
An attorney representing Turner Outdoorsman said he could not comment on the lawsuit because his clients had yet to be served.