June 26th, 2019

Outrage continues over officer’s killing of deer while authorities request calm during investigation

By None on January 10, 2019.

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald

Outrage continues to grow over a video showing a Lethbridge Police officer euthanizing an injured deer by repeatedly driving over it with his police vehicle.

Edmonton resident Tara Daubert, a stay-at-home mom with no formal ties to animal rights organizations, saw the video late Tuesday afternoon and felt compelled to start a an online petition at Change.org demanding the officer involved be fired. By late Wednesday afternoon, the petition had already garnered more than 15,000 signatures.

“I saw the video on the news and it sparked outrage in my heart,” Daubert told the Herald. “Animals don’t have voices so they usually rely on us to be their voice. I knew something had to be done.”

Daubert called the LPS officer’s actions “an inhumane and disgusting act of cruelty.”

“I am hoping ASIRT as they are investigating take into account this petition,” she said. “I am hoping for an outcome that takes this officer off the job. If he is willing to do this to an animal, it really calls into his question his (judgement) to be a police officer. What he did was needlessly cruel, and that is not a quality I want in a police officer. A police officer is here to protect the community, and also to be a role model.”

Daubert was echoed in these comments by many on social media, and by at least one national animal rights organization.

“Animal cruelty is a very serious criminal offence, and there is little doubt that this poor deer suffered immensely while the officer repeatedly ran her over with a heavy truck,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, in a statement released to local media Wednesday afternoon.

“ASIRT must investigate this disturbing incident with a view to determining whether criminal animal cruelty charges should be laid. Police officers are not above the law. On the contrary, they are sworn to uphold the law. For that reason, animal abuse of this nature by a police officer is particularly disturbing and must be taken seriously.”

Barb Grodzicky, manager of the Lethbridge and District Humane Society, said cases of cruelty to wild animals were beyond the jurisdiction of her organization to investigate, but she admitted to being shaken after viewing video footage of the incident.

“We have seen a lot of different things with animal cruelty,” she said. “This story is hard to read, and the video is very disturbing to watch.”

Local officials with Alberta Fish and Wildlife, when asked about the best procedures to humanely euthanize wild animals which had been struck on highways with vehicles, said they have been directed to not publicly comment on matters related to this case, and to await the outcome of the ASIRT investigation.

A press release from ASIRT released Wednesday afternoon confirmed Alberta Fish and Game’s Wildlife Enforcement unit and the Alberta SPCA would both now be joining ASIRT in examining the officer’s actions, and asked the public to let the investigation take its course.

“This matter has already received considerable public attention and interest,” ASIRT said in a statement. “The video is disturbing, prompting many to step forward to make complaints to various agencies including ASIRT, FWE, Alberta SPCA, Lethbridge and District Humane Society and, of course, LPS. We are fortunate to be part of the Canadian community where people care about the treatment of others, including animals. That passion however, must not supersede reason. The situation has escalated to reported death threats against the unidentified officer. These actions are now under investigation by LPS.”

The Lethbridge Police Service also called for calm during the investigation.

“We understand this situation is extremely upsetting to the community and those who have viewed the video have been deeply impacted,” the LPS said in a statement. “LPS takes this matter very seriously and can assure the public the incident is under full investigation by (ASIRT) with the assistance of both Alberta Fish and Wildlife and the Alberta SPCA.”

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