June 29, 2016

Mostly clear

Medina police chief wounded in gun accident

MEDINA — In the aftermath of the Newtown school shooting, all Medina police officers received advanced training in emergency medical care.

Police Chief Patrick Berarducci got to apply what he learned Thursday morning — on himself.

Medina Police Chief Patrick Berarducci was interviewed from a hospital bed Thursday after he accidentally shot himself in the thigh while getting ready for work. “I just want people to know – whether they are for or against firearms – firearms are dangerous," he said, "and accidents will happen." (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAVID KNOX)

Berarducci was wounded about 9:30 a.m. when his service pistol went off as he holstered the weapon while preparing to go to work.

The wound was not life-threatening. He was taken to Medina Hospital, where he was released shortly after 1 p.m.

While he was being treated in the hospital emergency room, Berarducci described how the shooting happened.

“I was standing up and I picked my gun up from the table and put it into my holster,” he said. “I was using a different belt and the holster apparently hung up on the belt, which caused it to buckle inward a little bit where the trigger guard would be.”

“When I shoved the gun down into the holster, it went off — it caught the trigger and made it go off.”

The 40-caliber, hollow-point bullet pierced Berarducci’s upper right thigh and came out four inches farther down on the same side.

Berarducci said he and his wife, Judy, were able to stop the bleeding using the “tactical combat casualty bag” that became standard equipment in all police cruisers earlier this year.

After she retrieved the bag from the garage, “I showed her which dressing to use,” he said. “I maintained pressure on it, and we used a trauma bandage and wrapped it tight.”
Berarducci said he then called Sgt. Scott Marcum, who was manning the desk at the Police Department and asked for a cruiser to take him to the hospital.

He said Marcum “overruled me” and called for an ambulance.

“Their concern was they didn’t want to transport me in a cruiser because ‘what if the chief has a heart attack?’ ” said Berarducci, 62, who has four cardiac stents implanted.

“I’m fine — my blood pressure didn’t even go up,” he said.

Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell, who was informed of the incident while vacationing in Orlando, Fla., said he was relieved — “very much so” — that Berarducci was not seriously injured.

The mayor said the incident, like all police shootings, would be investigated.

“We’ve had accidental discharges before,” Hanwell said. “We’ll look at the report, interview the chief. We’ll take a look at all the circumstances and then determine whether it’s a training issue or a safety issue.

“If it happens to one guy, can it happen to other people? Is there a safer way to go about these things?”

Asked whether he was chagrined about the accident, Berarducci said: “No. I’m a human being. I make mistakes like anybody. I was trained, I used my training.”
Berarducci said accidents with firearms are unavoidable.

“I tell people all the time there are two kinds of people who handle firearms: Those who have had an accident and those who are going to have an accident,” he said.

Before becoming Medina’s police chief in August 2009, Berarducci served nearly 30 years as an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of hours in training, but I shot myself in the leg going to work,” he said. “I just want people to know — whether they are for or against firearms — firearms are dangerous and accidents will happen.

“Be prepared to deal with them.”

Berarducci’s ability to carry a firearm was questioned last spring when Daniel Leffler, an attorney with the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the union representing the department’s sergeants, patrol officers and dispatchers, made a public records request that showed the chief had failed to file paperwork to show he qualified in firearms proficiency in 2009 and 2011.

Berarducci said it was an oversight and immediately went to the shooting range and qualified.

Sgt. Marcum, who is the department’s firearms instructor, said Berarducci is up to date and last qualified at the range on Dec. 14.

Contact David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or dknox@medina-gazette.com.