The incident reported in the media about an MRC police officer shooting a fawn that had been hit by a car (as also reported in the Low Down: “Cop shoots wounded deer after struck by car,” Sept. 11 edition) raises a number of important issues.
To begin with, the fact that a good Samaritan, Greg Searle, stopped to render assistance to the injured animal and was then threatened by an MRC police officer because he was trying to help the fawn is unconscionable.
The officer demonstrated behaviour that was not only inconsistent with good policing practices and police community relations, but he also showed a remarkable ignorance of criminal law.
What was the officer implying by threatening to arrest Mr. Searle? What offence would he have charged Mr. Searle with – obstruction?
No court in the country would convict a person for being a good samaritan, and no responsible Crown would proceed with such a charge.
It’s clear the officer was simply using his police uniform and erroneous interpretation of criminal law as a shield to threaten and intimidate Mr. Searle so he could proceed to kill the deer.
What possible justification would a police officer have for not waiting to see if an emergency service was available to come and get the animal? Upon what basis did the officer decide that this animal’s life could not be saved? What expertise does he have for making such a decision?
This officer demonstrated not only that he lacks training, but that he lacks the most fundamental social skills that society expects from police officers.
The actions of this officer are disturbing and reveal underlying behavioural problems that are the very antithesis of what society expects from police. The oversight body for the MRC should be demanding answers.
Darryl T. Davies, professor of criminology and criminal justice, Carleton University