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No charges for Alberta officer who ran over injured deer with police vehicle

A mule deer buck shows interest in a doe on a fairway at the Anaconda Hills golf course in Great Falls, Mont., on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007. A southern Alberta police officer caught on video repeatedly running over an injured deer will not be charged. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Great Falls Tribune, Robin Loznak

LETHBRIDGE (660 NEWS) – Alberta’s police watchdog is not laying charges against a Lethbridge Police Officer who used a marked police cruiser to drive over an injured deer, ultimately killing it.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response team was asked to investigate the incident due to public outrage after a cell phone video recorded by a bystander went viral.

The Alberta SPCA was called in to help with the investigation, but after speaking with the officer and reviewing the cellphone footage, the decision was made that the incident fell under the provisions of euthanasia of an injured animal.

In a release from ASIRT, it says that during the investigation the Criminal Code, the Wildlife Act, and the Animal Protection Act were all taken into consideration.

According to ASIRT, back in January a Lethbridge police officer received a call about an injured deer on Scenic Drive, the caller told the officer that the deer was “quite injured” and “may need to be put down,” police received a second call about the same deer and was told that the deer “looks broke.”

READ MORE: Animal rights group calls for charges after Lethbridge police officer runs over deer

When the officer arrived at the scene where the deer was he is said to have attempted to figure out if the vehicle still at the scene had hit the animal, and then turned his attention to the dying deer.

“The deer was described as a female juvenile mule deer, weighing approximately 60 to 70 pounds, with evident significant injury to the hindquarters and/or rear legs, which appeared to no longer function. While the deer was able to get up onto its front legs, it appeared weak and lacking in the strength to drag itself even a short distance,” ASIRT says in a release. “The officer believed that the deer was critically injured. He made the determination, consistent with policy, that the animal should be euthanized.”

The officer is said to have weighed the options available and decided that using his gun would have been too dangerous with the possibility of the bulleting ricocheting off the pavement hitting someone.

This left him the options of beating the deer to death with his batton, cutting the deer’s neck open, or running it over with his vehicle.

The officer chose running the deer over with his vehicle with the thinking “he believed that if he drove the heavy vehicle over a vulnerable, critical part of the deer’s anatomy, causing a crushing injury, death would be virtually instantaneous.”

In the release, ASIRT says that after the first time the officer drove over the deer he believed it would be dead, and was shocked when he backed up and saw that that the deer was still alive and moving.

The officer had missed the animals head but that that he had caused severe injuries that would have been fatal, the officer believed that he had to finish euthanizing the deer but still believed a firearm was still not a viable choice, running the deer over until ultimately killing it.

The investigation found that the officer did not try to contact a Fish and Wildlife officer.

“At the time, one of the two FWEB peace officers assigned to the Lethbridge area was on annual leave and the other officer had already worked that day. The FWEB peace officer on call would have been out of Cardston, Alberta, approximately 80 kilometres distance from Lethbridge.” According to the release that would mean waiting close to an hour if not longer for the deer to be put out of its misery.

As for the video itself the woman who took the video said that the 14 minute and 47-second video was not a full account of the events that occurred, being an amateur cellphone video taken at night.