Brady Gervais, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. –
A Forest Lake police officer exercised poor judgment and should be suspended for at least a week for shooting and killing two deer last month, according to a resident who filed a formal complaint with the department.
Jeff Carpenter, who along with his wife cared for the deer for more than seven months, filed a complaint against officer Brent Degroot six days after he shot the deer. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had requested the animals be killed.
The Washington County sheriff’s office is looking into the complaint. Washington County Sheriff Bill Hutton declined to comment other than to say all inquiries should be handled by Forest Lake Police Chief Rick Peterson.
A message was left for Peterson.
The deer had collars at the time of the shooting, signaling the deer could not be regarded as wild – and thus posed a threat to wild animals.
Diseases can fester among animals in captivity, said Capt. Greg Salo, regional supervisor for the DNR’s enforcement division. Salo said the DNR had received reports that two deer with bright, fluffy collars were roaming the area. The agency checked with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and found no deer farms had reported escaped animals.
The DNR’s policy is to allow owners of domesticated deer 24 hours to recover them after they escape.
In an email sent Jan. 3, the DNR asked Forest Lake police to kill the animals on sight. Help is often solicited from law enforcement agencies because the DNR
has limited staff, Salo said.
On the morning of Jan. 14, the police officer shot and killed “Pinkie” and “Abbie” after he almost hit the deer while out on patrol, the police department said at the time.
In the complaint, Carpenter wrote that Degroot put Carpenter’s family and neighbors in danger by failing to notify them in advance of the shooting.
Carpenter said he met with a sheriff’s office detective, who took photos and measurements at Carpenter’s home on North Shore Trail
The Carpenters affixed collars to the animals to differentiate them from one another. He said the deer arrived at his home in June. He estimated they were a few days old at the time and suspected their mother had been hit by a car, leaving them orphaned.
He said the deer were never domesticated and were free to come and go.
“We’re trying to move on,” Carpenter said Wednesday. “It’s just not the same.”