Harmless Objects Police Officers Have Mistaken for Guns

It is of little comfort to understand that carrying common, every day objects can get you shot. One minute, you might be carrying a sub sandwich home for dinner, reaching for your sunglasses, or toting your apron home from your serving job. Then, suddenly, mass hysteria erupts because law officials or concerned citizens think you are packing heat.
If taken lightly, it almost seems hilarious that completely innocuous objects like bananas, fingers, and cans of hairspray have been mistaken for guns. However, often, the results are quite tragic. Moreover, the phenomenon only seems to be accelerating at an alarming rate. 
Scarier yet is the fact that there are no concrete statistics on how many shootings of citizens there are by police in a year. The fact is, the US Government does not keep count of how many police shootings there are, let alone how many of them happen as a result of police mistaking random household objects for guns. In a recent case, a SWAT team was called to confront a man with a tattoo of a gun. Yup. That's right. A tattoo.
Does a golf club look like a gun? How about a Bible or a television remote? Check out this list of gun accidents, accidental shootings, and completely harmless objects that have been mistaken for guns and, this time, you be the judge.

  • A Plunger

    Clogged toilets can be a terrifying situation - but that doesn't mean you should call the police. Unfortunately for one plumber in California, that's exactly what happened. A plumber was responding to a Mission Viejo mall in March 2017 when someone mistook his plunger for a gun. 

    The mall was placed on lockdown, police arrived, and investigated the scene. The "rifle" was actually just a plunger and the "shooter" was just a plumber. 

  • A Tripod

    A Tripod
    Photo: Lucasbosch / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
    An office building in central Pennsylvania was evacuated after someone called the police on a photographer. A concerned citizen saw the photog's tripod and mistook it for a machine gun. Police had to search the building floor-by-floor until they found the nefarious picture-taker.
  • A Piece of Pizza

    A Piece of Pizza
    Photo: BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Well, isn't this a slice? In March of 2013, 13 cops were involved in a car chase and, believing an unarmed Cleveland woman was reaching for a gun, fired 137 bullets at her and the car’s male driver. What was she reaching for? A slice of pizza. Both the woman and the driver were killed.

    Six officers were charged in the case, one of whom "became so involved in the pursuit" she "lost the ability to supervise" and another who, afterward, "sat in a car at the scene reading a book for 20 minutes." Demotions and suspensions were handed down, though, ultimately, no officers were prosecuted for the deaths.

    Sources: KARE 11 News, Cleveland.com
  • The Bible

    Holy smokes! Mark Venuti, a 36-year-old New Jersey man, was fatally shot in 2002 when he charged at two officers after they entered his home. The police claimed he had held a “dark object” over his head, which they took to be gun. The bad news is that it was actually a copy of the good book.

    Venuti's death was later determined to be an act of suicide-by-cop. Still, the Bible doesn't really look like a gun.

    Source: ABC News