At first, it appeared as if the Maryland sheriff's deputy was trying to do a good deed by stopping traffic to allow a groundhog to cross the road without getting killed.
But that was before the deputy shot and killed the rodent.
A Carroll County sheriff's spokesman said the deputy had to shoot the animal because it was charging towards him, making him fear for his life.
But a witness video shows the deputy could have easily sidestepped the groundhog.
The deputy stopped when he observed the groundhog acting oddly, department spokesman Cpl. Jon Light said.
“You see the groundhog coming after the officer. At this point in time, the animal was not acting as a normal animal would. It is within our policy to dispose of any animal that could pose a health threat,” Light said.
The video shows the deputy stepping toward the groundhog, which doesn’t back away. The deputy then slowly backs into the next lane of traffic and the groundhog runs toward the deputy. The deputy then pulls his gun, gets down on one knee and shoots the groundhog once. The groundhog continues to roll around and the deputy then gets down on one knee again and shoots the groundhog a second time, and then walks back toward his patrol car.
“It started out as a cute encounter where I thought he was trying to help the little fella,” said Olkowska, who lives in Pikesville. “I obviously did not think that it would take this turn and was kind of shocked. I am sure the officer did the best thing in this situation. It is not for me to judge.”
The incident took place Sunday afternoon in Eldersburg, about 50 miles north of Washington D.C. The deputy confronted the groundhog because it was in the middle of the road, blocking traffic, according to the Washington Post.
The spokesman said the deputy was trying to coax the animal to the side of the road, which is where it was when the video begins.
But the groundhog got back on the road, then appeared to charge at the cop, which was when the cop fired.