It wasn't a fearsome alligator or a rabid raccoon. But an Oakland police officer cornered a deer in a backyard and shot it repeatedly, horrifying residents — including children and an amateur videographer, according to ABC News.
The baby deer, defenseless by witness accounts, had been running loose in the neighborhood before the police officer, a sergeant and an animal control officer arrived on the scene.
The video of the young male deer's shooting death has been circulating on the Internet, showing the officer firing off seven shots from a .40 Glock in what Oakland Police Department spokesperson Holly Joshi would later call a response to a “public safety issue”.
Animal control was called after the deer was spotted in the neighborhood. However, the Department of Fish & Game warden was 30 minutes away and responding police officers decided not to wait.
MercuryNews.com reports that police are allowed to shoot an animal if it is injured or a threat to the public, and that although the animal control officer on the scene was armed with a tranquilizer gun, the officer was not trained to use it.
Local news station KTVU aired the amateur footage of the shooting, prompting dozens of citizens to file complaints with the Oakland Police Department.
The media attention prompted the police to issue an apology and announce the launch of an internal affairs investigation. The responding officers have not been put on leave during the probe, which will take about two weeks to complete.
"I do not like what I saw," said Police Chief Anthony Batts in a prepared statement. "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."