COVINGTON, La. (CNN) – One unsuspecting Louisiana police officer was in for a hoot on Christmas Eve.
Covington Police officer Lance Benjamin was riding alone Thursday with his windows down, patrolling the quiet streets of a Louisiana subdivision, when he felt something hard hit the side of his face.
At first Benjamin thought he was struck by a football, he told CNN affiliate WVUE.
“And then I felt some scratching on the back of my head and some pecking,” he said.
An owl had flown into the driver’s side window and started attacking the officer with its wings, talons and beak.
During the mayhem, the officer temporarily lost control of his patrol car and drove it into a ditch, according to the Covington Police Department.
“I tried to keep control of my car, went into a ditch, avoided some trees. Finally was able to stop the car, put it in park, get out. And there he was, just chilling out in the car,” he said.
Benjamin waited about 45 minutes for the owl to finally fly out of the car and into the darkness.
Chief of Police Tim Lentz, said he woke up to a text message early Christmas morning about an officer crashing a vehicle because of an owl. At first he thought it was a prank.
After reviewing Benjamin’s body camera footage, it was clear the altercation was real.
Fortunately, it’s going to be “owl” right for the officer. Benjamin only suffered minor scratches and was given a tetanus shot and antibiotics after the surreal encounter.
His fellow officers wanted to memorialize the event and presented Benjamin with a plush owl to accompany him during his late night rides.
After Benjamin was treated for his scratches, he finished the rest of his shift.
The raptor, which the Audubon Society identified from the video frame as a barred owl, is still at large.