Safety and OSHA News

Police chief accidentally shot during handgun safety training: Does he get comp?

A town’s police chief suffered a gunshot wound to his hand during an outreach class he conducted on handgun safety. There have been questions on whether this was part of his official duties. Did he get workers’ comp?

Bill Waybourn was conducting a one-on-one concealed handgun safety class at a private gun range in June 2013 when he was Dalworthington Gardens, TX, police chief. (He’s since retired from the force.)

His student’s gun stovepiped – a round didn’t completely eject. A live round discharged, hitting him in the hand.

Fortunately, his student was a doctor. She administered first aid and drove him to the hospital. Ultimately, Waybourn had two surgeries on the hand.

Two days after the incident, Waybourn filled out a Employers First Report of Injury or Illness form and checked “yes” that this happened during his regular job.

The city didn’t oppose his request for workers’ comp medical benefits, and its insurance carrier paid the claim.

Then why is this an issue? Waybourn is running for public office – Tarrant County Sheriff.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports it was among several media outlets that received an anonymous letter raising ethical questions about the workers’ comp claim. Waybourn told the Star-Telegram he believes the latter came from his opponent’s camp. The opponent, incumbent Dee Anderson, denies any connection.

Waybourn says his gun safety training outreach program was city-approved.

City Attorney Jim Jeffrey says there had been an understanding but no written policy between City Council and Waybourn that he would provide concealed handgun classes as a community service.

That anonymous letter has stirred up quite a fuss in the city of 2,259 residents.

At a recent Dalworthington Gardens City Council meeting, the room was packed, including various media, wanting to know the details in this case which had previously received little coverage.

Alderman Ed Motley told the Star-Telegram that City Council was aware Waybourn was conducting the classes and permitted him to use city facilities.

Waybourn sometimes conducted concealed handgun license programs for profit. He says he never took money from the city for the ones that were part of the outreach program, including the one when he was shot.

What do you think about this case? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments

  1. It seems fairly simple, to meat least. If he was doing this as part of an Outreach Program, and wasn’t being directly compensated by the students, then he was acting in his role as Police Chief. If he had been doing this as part of a side business and expected to profit financially from it, then he shouldn’t be eligible for workers comp. That should be fairly easy to determine.

  2. JohnnyP says:

    Well the way I interpret this, if he was conducting a ‘for-profit’ class then it should not be compensable. The article states the alderman knew the former chief sometimes conducted this class for profit but it does not state whether this class was actually for-profit class or not. If it was, then it should not be compensable. Furthermore, an ‘understanding’ that the chief could use city facilities puts the city in a precarious position because what if the student was shot and sued the city? Would they stand behind the chief then? Would they accept liability for a civilian’s potential injury? Finally, does the chief’s job description list ‘facilitation of gun safety classes’ as an element of his responsibilities? I really think it comes down to if it was a for-profit course and if it’s part of his actual job description. Personally, I believe if any city approves something like this they should have a documented policy outlining how the course would be conducted, limits of liability and the collection of fees, etc.

  3. Old_Geezer says:

    According to a February 18, 2016 Star Telegram article, the class was one of the outreach programs and there were no private fees associated with it. It states that the doctor in question served as the “medical director for Arlington and handled protocols for AMR, Dalworthington Garden’s ambulance service.” Regarding any private fees, “she did not pay Waybourn for it nor was payment ever discussed.”

    “He has offered this as a service to multiple groups and individuals to my knowledge,” Simmons said.

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