It was a disturbing scene, witnesses said, and it lasted for 15 minutes.
Police officers in Ravena, N.Y., were caught on video Monday as they repeatedly charged at a raccoon in a parking lot until they ultimately killed the animal, a witness who posted the footage on Facebook said.
The animal can be seen in the parking lot as a white car and a marked police car barrel towards it over and over again — sometimes clipping the animal, other times appearing to hit it and send it rolling and occasionally missing the animal altogether, video shows.
At the end of one of the videos, the injured raccoon can be seen struggling to get up. Eventually officers succeeded in killing it, witnesses said on Facebook.
But police said the alarming footage isn’t as bad as it looks: Authorities had received “numerous calls about a rabid raccoon” in the area, the Town of Coeymans Police Department wrote on Facebook. And the critter had even tried sneaking into an establishment in the town, which is located just south of Albany, police said.
When officers got to the scene, they quickly found the rabid animal, they said. However, they also realized how tough it would be to apprehend it.
“[I]t was not in an area that was safe to discharge a firearm due to the proximity of pedestrians and residences,” the police department wrote on Facebook. “They dispatched the raccoon as quickly and humanely as possible.”
But Bryanna Catucci, the woman who posted two videos of the incident on Facebook, said she wasn’t buying the justification.
“You would think if it had rabies they would shoot him instead of torturing,” Catucci wrote in a post that has been shared more than 3,000 times. “Sad day.”
Catucci said she was leaving the grocery store when she watched the scene unfold.
Many commented on the police department’s Facebook post expressing outrage at what the department said was an attempt to “humanely” kill the animal.
“I don't know what's worse: the police officers who actually did this or the department who is justifying their acts,” Makayla Shear wrote.
Others called for the officers to be fired.
“While I have always appreciated our local police, this is disgusting on every level. These officers should be immediately removed from duty. People with these types of decision making skills shouldn’t be walking around with guns and badges,” James Gibney wrote.