WARNING: This story contains graphic content that some readers may find disturbing.
The chorus of demands is growing for the firing of a Lethbridge, Alta. police officer seen in a disturbing video repeatedly running over a deer with his patrol vehicle.
About 100 people outraged by the video demonstrated outside the Lethbridge police headquarters on Sunday. They chanted and waved signs, including: “She screamed for mercy,” “Police are not above the law” and “Animals deserve compassion.”
“Within the first three seconds of the video, you could hear the deer crying, and that’s all I could handle, with tears coming down my face,” said protester Lois White.
An officer was caught on camera allegedly using his truck to euthanize a young deer that had been seriously injured after being struck by another vehicle on Jan. 5 at about 10 p.m. The video shared on social media includes the voices of a woman and a man who had stopped their vehicle and are clearly shocked by what they witnessed.
The video shows a police truck with lights activated running over the shrieking animal. The deer struggles to get up after being run over by the police truck at least twice. The officer drives over the deer at least five times in total – and even stops on top of it – before it finally dies. The officer then drags the body to the side of the road and drives off.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, a civilian oversight agency, has taken over the investigation of the incident. The unnamed officer remains on active duty.
An online petition calling for the officer to be fired has surpassed 70,000 signatures.
Many people who attended Sunday’s demonstration said the officer should have called wildlife officers to humanely deal with the injured animal.
“[They should have] done something else instead of just using such a cruel way to put the animal down,” said Kathy Braun.
“I wanted to fight for the rights for the little deer,” said a girl carrying a sign that said: “I’m only 7 and I know better.”
Organizers of the protest say the officer should face animal cruelty charges and be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. They also want to see him be ordered to undergo a psychological assessment and that police should be better trained to deal with wildlife calls.
ASIRT has said it is investigating a number of death threats made against the officer.
Chief Rob Davis said last week that he “welcome[s] this independent investigation.”
“After watching the video, I understand the concerns people have and I can assure the community we take this incident very seriously,” Davis said in a statement on Tuesday.
Davis added, “transparency is paramount to the public’s trust and confidence in the police service.”
Lethbridge is a city of about 100,000 people in southern Alberta, about 220 km southeast of Calgary. Its police service employs more than 220 officers and staff.
-With a report by Terry Vogt, CTV Calgary
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