MIDDLEBOROUGH, MASS. (WHDH) - A Middleborough police officer who was seriously injured in an explosion during a regional police training exercise in Bridgewater on Wednesday was holding a 37mm projectile launcher when the device exploded in his hands.
Bridgewater Police say the device malfunctioned in the officer’s hands while he was training to do his job in the normal performance of his duties. The device broke into several pieces and a portion of the barrel was split in half.
The officer, whose name is not being released, has since been released from the hospital on and is back home and in good spirits, according to police. He underwent successful surgery on one of his hands and will now begin rehab.
The officer sustained injuries to his left hand that include severe lacerations and the permanent partial amputation of one of his finger tips.
“I am very glad to see that our officer is back home with his family and I would like to thank the staff at Mass. General for the great care that they provided and their hospitality for the many officers and family members that went to visit him,” Middleborough Police Chief Perkins said. “I would like to commend our officer for his high spirits and professionalism during this unfortunate ordeal. We wish him a speedy recovery and everyone in Middleborough and the 30 communities that SEMLEC represents sends their well wishes and positive thoughts.”
The investigation into the incident is still ongoing.
The use of the projectile launcher and training rounds used will be suspended by SEMLEC while the investigation remains open. The launcher dates back to the 1960s.
“All factors will be looked at, including the age of the device, the training round that was used and whether there were any defects in the products. At this point, all indications are that it was not the officer’s error but a defective device that malfunctioned in his hands,” Bridgewater Police Chief Delmonte said. “This is life-saving training and while this incident was not typical, these officers are trained for dangerous situations and the training can sometimes pose inherent risks. These elite SEMLEC officers are part of one of the most highly-trained units in the region, with the singular mission of saving lives during a critical incident. This officer was training to do his job when he was injured in the performance of his duties.”
It’s not clear when or if the officer will return to duty.
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