LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A video of a police officer in southern Alberta repeatedly running over an injured deer with his service vehicle has sparked calls for his firing and an animal cruelty investigation.
Investigators say the disturbing video has triggered an overwhelming number of complaint calls to police and animal welfare agencies and there are reports the officer faces death threats.
Lethbridge police have said the officer was trying to euthanize the animal on Saturday with his truck and drove over the deer several times while it was still alive.
The Toronto-based group Animal Justice is calling for Alberta's police watchdog to investigate whether the officer should be charged with criminal animal cruelty offences.
Lethbridge police say the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is reviewing what happened, along with Alberta Fish and Wildlife and the Alberta SPCA.
A petition on the website Change.org is calling for the officer, who remains on active duty, to be fired.
"This is inhumane, and disgusting," the petition reads. "This officer should no longer be part of the police department for his inappropriate actions!
"Sign this petition to make it clear to the police department that this officer should be fired!"
Lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, said police are not above the law and animal abuse by an officer must be taken seriously.
"There is little doubt that this poor deer suffered immensely while the officer repeatedly ran her over with a heavy truck," Labchuk said Wednesday.
"It is heartbreaking to watch the video and hear her crying out in pain as she was struck by the vehicle over and over again."
Lethbridge Police are asking anyone who witnessed or recorded what happened to contact investigators.
ASIRT is calling on people to allow investigators to do their jobs.
"We are fortunate to be part of the Canadian community where people care about the treatment of others, including animals," ASIRT said in a release, noting that it would make the results of its investigation public.
"That passion, however, must not supersede reason. The situation has escalated to reported death threats against the unidentified officer."
ASIRT, which reports to Alberta's justice department, investigates when police action results in serious injury or death as well as any serious allegations of police misconduct.