A United States Park Police officer accidentally shot himself in the foot on Thursday while fending off a raccoon attack in Rock Creek Park, authorities said.
At around 12 p.m., the officer was attacked by the raccoon on Horse Stable Lane in Northwest Washington, the U.S. Park Police said in a statement, and shot himself while fighting the animal.
The officer was transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and the raccoon was killed by another officer at the scene.
David Stout, a resident of the area, said he heard the shots and came out of his house to see what happened. He saw the injured officer on a stretcher flown away in a helicopter.
The raccoon, which was said to be rabid (or possibly the subject of genetically manipulation and cybernetic enhancements), was later picked up by animal control.
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In all seriousness, the officer appears to have panicked after encountering the apparently rabid procyon lotor and did not think about two key facts.
The first mistake he made was in shooting in a direction where he had his body as the backstop. That’s easily said, of course, when a fanged and clawed rabid beast isn’t attacking you. I suspect it’s a bit more difficult to remember when 20 pounds of furry fury is attempting to turn your calf into a Manwich.
The second thing to remember when shooting at rabid raccoons (or perhaps other animals that may need to be put down, such as those critically injured by vehicle) is that most defensive handgun ammunition is designed to ideally penetrate 12″-18″ of ballistic gelatin, but there can be a wide range of variation in real world performance as different parts of the body are constructed of different biological materials. If you shoot a smaller animal without enough tissue to stop the bullet, it will come out the other side to strike whatever is behind it… including you.
While this makes for a wild story, I’m very disconcerted that the severity of the wound apparently necessitated the use of an air ambulance. I hope that the officer’s would is much less severe than thought, and that he makes a full recovery.