Oakland police criticized for shooting deer

May 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Oakland police are defending their decision to shoot a baby deer lost in an East Oakland neighborhood. The shooting, which was caught on home video, is facing criticism from the community.

A police department spokesperson watched the video and said the situation could have been handled better. The video that was taken of the shooting is a reminder that technology is putting the actions of police officers under more and more scrutiny.

The young deer ended up in Kim McLemore's backyard in East Oakland.

"I'm like, 'What's going on? They said, 'You have a deer in your back yard.' And I'm like, 'A deer?" said McLemore.

The deer had running down 90th Avenue before police cornered it in the backyard. McLemore said excited children ran to see it.

"We called it 'Bambi...it was a baby," she said.

"There were many children in the area and the officers make a decision that the deer was a public safety issue," said Holly Joshi from the Oakland Police Department.

So, the Oakland police officers decided to kill it. It took seven shots with a .40 caliber Glock to bring down the small deer. Police say they safely evacuated the area before shooting the deer, but Anthony Weems, who took the amateur video, says the shots scared the whole neighborhood.

"Do they understand how this feels? Just because we hear gunshots, doesn't mean it's something you can ever get used to," said Weems.

"They didn't have to do that. They could have figured something else out, right?" said McLemore.

A spokesperson for the Lindsay Wildlife Center in Walnut Creek says the Department of Fish and Game could have handled it.

"They could have possibly tranquilized it or advised whoever was concerned about it, that this was a natural thing," said Susan Heckly.

In other words, open the gate at night and let it go free.

Oakland police say they would know what to do if it was a pit bull, but they simply don't have a protocol to deal with deer, but after this, they probably will.

"We are going to review this procedure and in the future we really are going to come up with something else. There has to be a better way to handle this situation," said Joshi.

The Lindsay Wildlife Center said it's common for deer to live in urban areas, including East Oakland, and it's likely that deer would have found its way back to its neighborhood hiding place.


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