A police officer in Middleburg Heights, Ohio is in hot water after shooting and killing a wounded deer on the lawn of a local church.

According to Fox 8, Officer Joesph Kaetzel responded to a call from near St. Bartholomew’s Church last month to find a young deer on the property with an injured leg. The deer was being cared for at the time by a woman and her young daughter. Kaetzel ordered the woman and daughter away from the animal for their own safety and then shot the deer.

The woman later filed a complaint with the city and described the officer’s demeanor as “arrogant” and “insensitive.”

Police officers are often called to euthanize sick or injured animals, but the incident in Middleburg caused quite a stir. Debate over whether or not Kaetzel’s actions were justified—given the location and presence of a nearby child—has led Mayor Starr to take a personal interest in the case.

“You’re a young girl, a 10-year-old girl said, ‘Mommy, what happens if I get hurt or if I get injured? Are they going to do the same thing they did to that deer that they did to me?’ And I find that to be heart wrenching.” Starr told Fox 8.

Others supported Kaetzel and argue that he did the right thing to end the animal’s suffering. Supporters said that transporting the deer was unpractical and would have taken time. As shocking as it may be to bystanders, it is not unusual for officers or wildlife wardens to euthanize deer in public spaces, especially if they are considered dangerous. Also in August, officers in Bellingham, Washington killed another injured deer that had been wandering around a residential area. That deer had been injured by a crossbow bolt in its neck.

After an internal investigation, the Middleburg Police Department determined that Kaetzel did nothing wrong by shooting the animal. The office was disciplined, however, for neglecting to identify himself and conduct unbecoming of a law enforcement official. Kaetzel was also criticized by Starr for not wearing his body camera, which the department was equipped with.

You can watch an interview with Starr below:

File image from Iamjohnm on the Wikimedia Commons

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  • Max Stout

    You simply say “of course not sweetheart”. “If you were injured we’d help you heal and get better. People don’t treat people like animals. That deer was not likely to survive. It was hurt badly and was in a lot of pain. We should not try to treat it like its a dog or a pet of some kind, because it’s a wild animal. Wild animals cannot be relied upon to be safe. It might not do anything, but then it’s unpredictable how it will react. It might think it’s in further danger and decide to fight back. Which they do fight quite often. So it would be best to let the police officer do his job, and thank him for his service and bravery. Also learn that in life is death, and that is not an alien experience. It’s a part of the life cycle, even as much as we wish it didn’t have to happen. The policeman is not a bad man sweetheart, he’s a good guy, doing his job and doing his best, with God’s help, to keep people safe.”

  • Andrew

    Well said Max.

  • raz

    i’m ain’t no cop groupie, but in this case what the hell should he do?

    as far as the kid well if she a darky, well cops apparently have quotas. particularly if they are unarmed. arm everybody. goa here. guns for all. respect. respect. respect.

    gelato. raz

  • J.J.

    Why is this even a newsworthy? Did they expect the cop to load the deer up in his police car and take it to a vet? job well done, Sir.