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 Kansas City Star reports. The other officer didn't realize he was using a real gun with live ammunition. Officer Dan De Kraai died shortly after being shot in the back. “Clearly, this accident should not have happened, and the application of safety rules was not sufficient to prevent an otherwise very preventable tragedy,” said a police department statement.
The incident happened Sept. 15 while De Kraai and officer Jason Strong were on break during a training session. Instead of live ammunition, officers used a training round called Simunition, a type of plastic projectile. 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. Other agencies in the Kansas City area said they follow this type of protocol, too. It isn't clear how common deaths like this are. The Officer Down Memorial Page, a website that tracks the line-of-duty deaths of law-enforcement officers nationwide, lists De Kraai's death as one of only two caused by accidental gunfire in 2010.