LETHBRIDGE (660 NEWS) — Alberta’s police watchdog is investigating after a shocking video surfaced, showing a Lethbridge police officer running over an injured deer in a police vehicle while on duty.
The graphic video shows the officer repeatedly running over the deer after it was injured in a collision with another vehicle.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is now investigating the officer’s actions, after police were made aware of the witness video.
In the meantime, a national animal rights group is criticizing the incident.
“I would urge them to consider laying animal cruelty charges against this officer, in addition to whatever police codes of conduct his actions may have violated,” said Camille Labchuck, Executive Director of Animal Justice.
Labchuck added that it is one of the more gut wrenching videos she has seen.
“To watch a police officer — someone sworn to uphold the law — instead blatantly violating our animal cruelty laws by repeatedly running over a suffering, vulnerable animal is just appalling. Animals in that situation deserve our compassion and they deserve our help.”
Under Alberta’s Animal Protection Act, a peace officer can only euthanize an animal in distress if a registered veterinarian agrees, or if no veterinarian is readily available.
There’s no indication a veterinarian was consulted, although there is a 24 hour animal clinic in Lethbridge.
Also, under police policy, it is recommended that an officer euthanize an animal with a firearm.
“So it seems like this officer was very out of step, very out of line with what is required,” said Labchuck.
ASIRT will also be investigating police policy and procedures for responding to injured animal calls.
Lethbridge police Chief Rob Davis said the incident is being treated seriously, and he understands the concerns people have.
The officer involved will remain on regular duty while the investigation continues.
Labchuck is confident that ASIRT will handle the situation appropriately.
On Wednesday afternoon ASIRT and Lethbridge police both issued statements on the incident. Lehtbridge police say they have received a high volume of calls and messages but they can’t respond to each one.
— Lethbridge Police (@lethpolice) January 9, 2019
ASIRT says death threats have been made against the unidentified officer. They understand the passion people have for the case, but that passion should not supersede reason. Lethbridge police are investigating those threats.