Oakland cops consider policy after shooting deer

May 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Oakland police are saying sorry for shooting a trapped deer Saturday. The incident was caught on video and stirred up a lot of controversy.

Oakland police do not carry tranquilizers. On Tuesday, ABC7 learned that officers still fired at the deer even though animal rescue agencies, including the Department of Fish and Game, were en route to the scene in part, to bring a tranquilizer.

The animal was trapped behind a home in East Oakland. Police were called to the scene and evacuated the area which was filled with children. Then, a sergeant gave the go-ahead to shoot. The officer fired his .40 caliber Glock seven times and killed the animal.

"The video looks terrible, but we're going to put some policies and procedures in place to make sure this never happens again," Officer Jeff Thomason said Tuesday.

Internal affairs personnel are investigating why the shooting even occurred in the first place. Department of Fish and Game wardens were in the process of responding, gathering supplies including a tranquilizer. Warden Roxanne Bowers was just 30 minutes away.

"Typically with wildlife, if it's not injured, we like to take a no harm, no foul approach," she said. "If it could find its way out on its own, I think that's the preferred method."

Bowers said it was impossible to say what she would have done because she never made it to the scene. She was called off when the police officer killed the deer. Police said the deer posed a public safety threat.

"Certainly the deer didn't pose a threat to hurting anybody," said Dr. Elliot Katz, founder of In Defense of Animals. "The only way the deer could've posed a threat was if it ran out of the yard and ran in front of a car."

Lyla Travis runs a wildlife center in the Oakland Hills. She too was in the process of responding.

"It was really unpleasant and totally unnecessary. Deer, especially around spring when they're foraging for food, they're going to travel," she said.

Travis took a fawn to a meeting with Animal Control Tuesday to discuss new policies in the wake of the deer shooting. It was caught wandering through the city streets Monday night. Travis thought it might be related to the dead deer, but officials Monday said that deer was male.

"They probably are unrelated, however the point stands, there are deer in Oakland and they live here just like we do," Travis said.

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts released a statement Tuesday saying, "I'm unhappy with the results of this incident. I do not like what I saw. I understand the importance of life and am working towards implementing strategies that will result in humane outcomes in our future contacts with wildlife."


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