Thomas K. Delahanty (born c. 1935) is a former District of Columbia policeman who was wounded during the assassination attempt on U.S. President Ronald Reagan on Monday, March 30, 1981, in Washington, D.C.
According to an interview given in 1981 after John Hinckley, Jr.'s attempt to assassinate President Reagan in 1981, Delahanty came from a family of police officers.
Reagan assassination attempt
President Reagan, White House Press Secretary James Brady, and Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy were also wounded in the crossfire. When John Hinckley, Jr. fired the first of six bullets, striking Brady in the head and seriously wounding him, Delahanty recognised the sound as a gunshot and turned his head sharply to the left to locate Reagan. As he did so, he was struck in the back of his neck by the second shot, the bullet ricocheting off his spinal cord. Delahanty fell on top of Brady, screaming "I am hit!".
Delahanty was taken to Washington Hospital Center. Hickley's gun had been loaded with six "Devastator" brand cartridges, which contained small aluminum and lead azide explosive charges designed to explode on contact; the bullet that hit Brady was the only one that exploded. On April 2, after learning that the others could explode at any time, volunteer doctors wearing bulletproof vests removed the bullet from Delahanty's neck. He was sent home eleven days later on Friday, April 10, 1981, and was quoted as saying, "I feel good . . . I'm ready to go."
Since the bullet had ricocheted off his spinal cord after striking his neck, he suffered permanent nerve damage to his left arm, and was ultimately forced to retire from the Metropolitan Police Department due to his disability.
After the assassination attempt, Delahanty was hailed as a hero though he felt a great deal of regret for not having been able to have done more.
Delahanty later sued Hinckley, Hinckley's psychiatrist, and the gun manufacturer (Röhm (RG)). His argument against the manufacturer, that small, cheap guns have no purpose except for crime, and thus that the company should be held responsible, was rejected by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Delahanty lives in Whitehall Borough, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Pittsburgh) after having moved from suburban Washington after the death of his wife, Jean Delahanty.
Delahanty was interviewed in 2016 about the release of John Hinckley Jr., and responded: "That's their decision, I guess. I'm probably not too enthused with it, but what can you do?"