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Tribal officer fired after shooting death of beloved deer

A deer the community named Annie was known to be comfortable around humans. The Pokagon Band of Tribal Police wrangled and shot the animal.
Posted at 9:24 PM, Oct 27, 2023

The officer who shot and killed a beloved deer in the southwest Michigan town of Lawrence last week has been fired.

The deer was loved by community members who named her Annie. She was known to have been comfortable and friendly around humans.

Witnesses say police officers with the Pokagon Band of Tribal Police wrangled and shot the deer on Oct. 20. It was unclear why. 

Video shows the moments just before the officer shot the deer as onlookers tried to stop the man from wrangling it, and tried to advocate for its release. 

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The Pokagon Band of Tribal Police says David Loza has been terminated from the department, effective Friday.

The decision comes after police say they reviewed his bodycam footage and interviewed witnesses who were nearby during the incident.

"Despite consulting with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and his supervising officer, Mr. Loza ignored comments from citizens and misidentified Annie as a 'pet deer,'" said Chief Mario RedLegs. "He acted independently and committed multiple policy violations in his decision to euthanize Annie without just cause. His actions demonstrated a complete lack of compassion and empathy for Annie, as well as the witnesses and other members of the community who willingly provided her with love and support."

Chief RedLegs goes on to say the incident is not reflective of the department's values, adding they will do what they can to show their support for animals' rights.

The incident is expected to be forwarded to a prosecutor's office for possible charges. 

This story was originally published by Scripps News West Michigan