ORLANDO, Fla. – A DEA agent who accidentally shot himself in the foot while demonstrating gun safety to school children is suing the agency, saying the video of the incident has made him the joke of the Internet.
Lee Paige was making a presentation to children at the Orlando Youth Minority Golf Association on April 9, 2004, when he shot himself. Moments before the shooting, the 14-year agency veteran was displaying his firearm and telling students he was the only one in the room professional enough to handle a gun.
He was suspended for five days without pay after the accident, and the video was turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The lawsuit filed April 7 in federal court in Washington alleges the agency leaked the video to the public.
After it surfaced, the tape soon became popular on the Internet. It aired on television, including late-night talk shows.
Paige "is the target of jokes, derision, ridicule and disparaging comments" because of the publicity, according to the lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount.
DEA spokeswoman Rogene Waite declined comment because of agency policy not to discuss ongoing cases.
Paige, 45, of Windermere, told NBC's "Today" show Friday he cleared the weapon but forgot to release the magazine.
"I was at the point of attempting to demonstrate how the gun could be disassembled and put back together," Paige said. "It is something I had done hundreds of times throughout my career."
Paige, a former player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said he can't work undercover anymore because of the tape.
"Yesterday I walk into a salon and a young lady made mention to me I was the person that shot myself on TV," Paige told NBC. "It is something I can't get away from."