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Rock Hill police change gun policy after cop’s weapon goes off in police station

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The Rock Hill Police Department has banned cleaning of guns outside of the armory in the police station after an officer’s gun went off Monday.

The change was made after a bullet from Lt. Vernon Harmon’s gun went through a window into a public area within feet of a person in the police station lobby, said police Lt. Michael Chavis.

Chavis declined to say if there was any department discipline in the incident, saying it was a personnel matter. Harmon was placed on administrative leave after the incident, Chavis said.

The incident was reviewed by the department’s Professional Standards division, Chavis said.

Police officers no longer will be allowed to clean weapons anywhere in the police station except for the armory that is in the back of the building, Chavis said. The armory has no public access.

The armory has construction protections that make it safer, Chavis said.

“The armory is basically a room within a room,” Chavis said. “This department is committed to making the public feel safe when they come to the law center.”

Harmon had returned from the department firing range when he was cleaning his personal off-duty firearm while in his office near the records division around 4 p.m. Monday, Chavis said. Harmon finished cleaning the gun and was making the weapon serviceable for use when the gun accidentally discharged, Chavis said.

The bullet went through an interior window frame, ricocheted into the public hallway and lodged in a wall about 14 feet from where a person was standing.

The investigation showed two other members of the public were in a nearby lobby area when the bullet was fired, Chavis said.

The Rock Hill Law Center shares a building and common public area with the Rock Hill Municipal Court. Court was in session when the bullet was fired. There were no reports of any injuries, police said.

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