Courts & Crime

Mix-up of real, fake ammo led to officer's training death

A St. Joseph, Mo., policeman killed last week had asked another officer to shoot him with a plastic training round so he would know how it felt, the department said.

But the other officer didn’t realize he was using a real gun with live ammunition, according to a department statement released Wednesday.

Officer Dan De Kraai died at a hospital shortly after being shot in the back. St. Joseph police expect to forward a report about the shooting to Buchanan County prosecutors within a week for review.

“Clearly, this accident should not have happened, and the application of safety rules was not sufficient to prevent an otherwise very preventable tragedy,” the police statement said.

The incident happened Sept. 15 while De Kraai and Officer Jason Strong were on break during a training session. Instead of live ammunition, police said, officers used a training round called Simunition, a type of plastic projectile.

But when the two men went to a convenience store to get a drink during their break, they took their regular weapons with them, the department said.

The shooting happened upon their return, outside the unoccupied school where the police had been training.

Typically, instructors or safety officers check each officer before letting him or her into the training area, making sure they haven’t accidentally brought in real weapons or ammunition.

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