Earlier this week, an officer with the Oakland Police Department shot and killed a deer in a residential neighborhood. According to the San Francisco Gate, “The deer, estimated to be about a year old, was shot in a backyard of a home” around 11 a.m. Saturday.
The young deer had been running through the area for about 30 minutes. Oakland animal control and the state Department of Fish and Game were informed of the situation, but the police arrived first. Oakland police Sgt. Terrance West ordered another officer, so far unnamed, to kill the deer. The unnamed officer reportedly “fired several shots, but the deer did not die immediately, so he fired several more shots…” Six or seven total shots were fired. An amateur video of the whole bloody affair shows a scared, cornered fawn cowering and then being shot, wounded, and dying.
An animal being shot dead in their neighborhood didn’t sit well with residents. The Oakland Tribune quoted Kim McLemore, who said, “”I was in tears after it happened.” McLemore described the deer as looking lost. “”It was so out of its environment. I kept saying, ‘Don’t kill it. You don’t need to kill it.’ It was not called for. He wasn’t attacking anyone. He was just scared, and he was cornered back there. They could have waited for wildlife people, or people from the zoo to come and get it.”
So why didn’t officers wait? Because the deer was “acting disoriented in an urban environment,” and, according to Oakland Police Department spokesperson Holly Joshie, “There were many children and area residents and the officers did make a decision that the deer was a public safety issue.”
A couple of thoughts, here. For one, how many animals (or people for that matter) act “disoriented in an urban environment?” Must they all face a hail of bullets? More seriously, why is it that a confused deer is considered more of a public safety issue than small arms fire?
According to KTVU News, it took over a minute from the first shot to the last for the deer to die. For anyone who knows something about firearms, this isn’t surprising. Watching the video, I noticed that the Oakland officer used his service pistol to kill the deer. Chances are it was a standard Oakland PD issued Glock in .40 S&W. This is not a gun to kill deer with, and in many jurisdictions hunters would be forbidden from using such a handgun for hunting. No wonder it took several rounds to slay the poor animal.
The shooting of the deer is being investigated by officials with the Oakland Police Department. Oakland police Chief Anthony Batts issued a statement saying he was “unhappy with the results of this incident … We are reviewing our policies and our procedures surrounding this incident to ensure that something like this does not happen again. I understand the importance of life and am working toward implementing strategies that will result in humane outcomes in our future contacts with wildlife.”
The whole sad tale was best summed up by Brian Campbell. It was his backyard the little deer was slain in. His take on the shooting? “I feel they shouldn’t have killed Bambi.”
Photo Credit: Public Domain