A police officer, who accidentally shot an unarmed motorcyclist in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, on June 20, 2015, blamed his actions on “high stress” and “muscle memory.” Video (below) of the incident, filmed by the officer's dash cam, was recently released.
Sergeant Lonnie Soppeland reportedly pursued Matthew Hovland-Knase in a chase that sometimes exceeded 110 mph. After Hovland-Knase pulled over on the side of the road, Soppeland got out of his police car, pulled his gun and fired, notes KMSP.
"S---! F---! F---!" Soppeland says after firing the shots. Hovland-Knase tells Soppeland he's bleeding and drops several expletives.
Soppeland runs back to his police car to get some medical supplies.
When he returns, Hovland-Knase says, “You actually shot me, didn’t you?"
“I’m not gonna to say anything right now, but it was not intentional," Soppeland states. "I can tell you that ... It was not intentional."
Hovland-Knase says he wasn't trying to run, and Soppeland replies, "You weren't trying? That's not ... still doesn't excuse my actions."
Hovland-Knase was convicted of fleeing a police officer, while Soppeland was placed on administrative leave and investigated by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.
Soppeland told a detective three days after the shooting: “As I was giving commands, I drew my firearm. As I drew my firearm with my right hand, I planned to steady it with my left hand. When my hands made contact, the firearm discharged once unintentionally."
"It was not my conscious choice to discharge the firearm. This all happened very fast, maybe within a matter of seconds. I could feel the effect of the adrenaline.”
Soppeland was asked by the detective if his police gun training from 20 days earlier played any role in the shooting.
“Yes, I feel the muscle memory from that recent training of squeezing the trigger contributed to the unintentional discharge during a high stress situation,” Soppeland stated.
The Eden Prairie Police Department said in a statement: "Based on the findings of the investigation, no further disciplinary action was taken and Soppeland has returned to regular duties with the Eden Prairie Police Department."
Explaining the concept of muscle memory, Christopher Tarantino, of the L-Tron Corporation, a consulting group, wrote in Officer.com in 2015: "At L-Tron Corporation, everything we do is process-oriented, with the expectation of 0% error in all operations."
"We achieve this goal through muscle memory. Our policies and processes are laid out in procedural documentation, training and reviews are coordinated regularly, and we cross-train personnel to be equipped to handle whatever gets thrown their way."
WARNING: Graphic language, raw video.