Collin and a fellow University of Illinois police officer were good friends who shared a disaffection for their employer. They often relaxed after work to gripe about policies and enjoy an unusual game they had invented to relieve their frustrations. They called the game "Sweet Release," "65% Disability," and "Million-Dollar Wound."
On New Year's Eve, Collin's partner handed over his Glock semiautomatic handgun, saying, "Sweet Release." The two men had exchanged their duty weapons in their game on prior occasions, but this night was different.
"I wonder if this is loaded?" With those portentous parting words, Collin stuck the gun in his mouth and played his final round of "Sweet Release."
Investigators interviewed the two men and three women present during the fatal shooting, and all agreed that Collin was his normal, happy self, and did not intend to commit suicide.
Although Collin had been drinking with friends for several hours on the night of the accident, his blood alcohol level at 0.09% was barely over the Illinois legal limit for driving. This level is high enough to dull reflexes, but is not sufficient to seriously impair cognitive function.
The deceased had worked for the Charleston Police Department and the Champaign County sheriff's office before taking a job at the University. But in all his years in law enforcement, he had apparently never fully absorbed the cardinal rule of handling weapons, stated by investigator Jim Rein: "Whether civilian or police officer, the assumption [should be] that every weapon is loaded."
"Talk about shooting your mouth off..."