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Police Will Investigate Mountain Lion Killing

An internal investigation will assess whether police protocols were followed and if more training is needed. Animal rights group says the cat was "agitated, frightened and cornered."

The will conduct its own internal investigation into the shooting death of .

An internal affairs unit will determine whether the police officers handled the situation safely and if the use of force was necessary. According to Sgt. Richard Lewis, there will also be an investigation into whether officers violated any department policies, or if more training is needed.

"What happens anytime there's a use of force is there is an internal investigaton," he said.

Police and the department of Fish and Game have defended killing the 75-pound mountain lion just one block from the , saying it was in the best interest of public safety, after attempts to tranquilize it and contain it to a courtyard on Second Street were unsuccessful.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles is calling for a separate investigation "into the procedures and training protocols required for safely interacting [with] and subduing wildlife," said President Madeline Bernstein.

“Basically, they agitated and frightened a cornered cat before they killed her,” Bernstein said. “Hosing a mountain lion down and then shooting her with pepper-balls only served to make her more frenzied. Deadly force should be used only as a last resort. The citizens and wildlife of California deserve better.”

Lewis said the SCPA Los Angeles is misinformed about some of the tactics it used to subdue the 3-year-old mountain lion.

A maintenance worker called police about 6 a.m. Tuesday and said the cat was in the courtyard of a building on Second Street, south of Wilshire Boulevard.

"It was docile when we got there," Lewis said. "But at some point, we have to get him out of there, we have to tranquilize him."

According to Lewis, the juvenile became agitated after it was shot once with a tranquilizer dart. That agitated the lion, which then attempted to charge through the courtyard's doors, managing to shatter some of the glass. When spraying the doors with water from fire hoses and firing pepper balls at the mountain lion didn't work to calm him, officers fired less than four gun shots.

A second tranquilizer could have killed the animal, Lewis said, noting that the officers on scene feared the cat could jump back over the glass doors.

"We can't have that cat running through downtown," Lewis said. "When it runs away from us at 15 mph we can't control what it does."

Georja Umano May 25, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Every effort must be made to save our precious wildlife. Even if it had taken an extra hour, and more precautions to the public, it must be tried. We humans are too quick to destroy the lives of other animals. And there are so few of these wonderful mountain lions left...very sad. The head of Fish and Wildlife recently shot a mountain lion in another state. When does it end?
Jane St. Clair May 25, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I can't believe this. This is supposed to be one of the most forward thinking cities in the country, and what kind of example does "earth friendly" Santa Monica set for the rest of the country? I cannot believe that they handled this as if we were living in the Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom fifties. What can be done NOW to ensure that this situation is handled differently next time? Who do I call? There will be a next time, the rate that California is growing. It's inevitable. We are the ones encroaching on their habitat and hunting.
Emily Hay May 26, 2012 at 12:11 AM
The Santa Monica Police Dept. has a well-documented history of overly agressive and abusive behavior and is known for beating and tasering homeless and mentally ill persons without cause. Now officers from that dept. have been allowed to corner, harass and murder an inoccent animal for their own sport, when they should have remained calm and cooperated with the Fish & Game officers at the scene to sedate and relocate this animal. Their actions were irrational and endangered the public and they should be investigated and punished. However, the S.A. police department and D.A. will probably continue to cover up the rash actions of their officers and use intimidation tactics against any witnesses.
Ruth Olafsdottir May 26, 2012 at 02:18 AM
This is a big shame and a tragedy!!!
Georja Umano May 27, 2012 at 12:55 AM
The international organization In Defense of Animals is "having a press conference next Wed. in S.M. re: the mountain lion shooting. 1 o'clock at City Hall. People are invited to attend. It is not a demonstration. We will have 2 wildlife experts with us, plus a couple who live in Agua Dulce, coexisting with mountain lions. We are advocating for a plan to be put into place for the future which would result in return to the wild rather than execution....

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