N.C. SWAT Team Still Uses 'Flash Bang' Devices

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --

In the two weeks since Officer Fred Thornton was killed by a flash-bang device, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have been intentionally quiet about the circumstances surrounding his death.

But despite a second unintentional flash-bang detonation -- this one involving an officer who was injured this week in Texas -- Charlotte's Fraternal Order of Police, which represents more than 1,000 local officers -- said the SWAT team is still using them.

“They have used them since this incident, and they've never had an issue with them,” said Randy Hagler with the Fraternal Order of Police.

Hagler said he's talked with SWAT team members in Charlotte who think the flash-bang devices they carry are safe, despite the explosion that killed Thornton.

“I don’t think they public should be concerned that the police department is using defective equipment, because they wouldn't put those officers in that circumstance if they thought that's what it was,” Hagler said.

In response to Channel 9’s questions, the department acknowledged it has put no new restrictions on SWAT officers using the flash-bang devices, saying "there have been no changes to the directives or policies as a result of the accident."

Multiple sources have indicated to Channel 9 that the detonation that killed Thornton may have involved some sort of human error rather than a malfunction in the device.

Police would not comment on that, saying they won't know exactly what happened until an OSHA investigation is complete. OSHA said the investigation is ongoing.

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