Couple had been feeding two deer since they were fawns, but the state DNR feared that the animals had escaped from a game farm and ordered them shot.
A Forest Lake police officer who shot two wild deer wearing colorful collars wasn't in violation of state law or police procedures, the Washington County Sheriff's Office has determined.
A complaint lodged by residents Jeff and Lee Ann Carpenter, who had been feeding the deer since they were fawns at the couple's rural home near Forest Lake's eastern border with Scandia, was "not sustained," said Rick Peterson, Forest Lake's police chief.
The Carpenters expressed disappointment in the county's decision in a recent e-mail to Peterson. They said that for the officer who shot the deer "to get away with his reckless and dangerous cowboy antics is appalling."
Forest Lake police have declined to name the four-year officer, citing state data privacy laws, but said earlier that he's a member of the department's special response team. He shot the deer early on the morning of Jan. 14 after the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources alerted police that they must be destroyed on sight.
The agency thought the deer were escapees from a private game farm and could introduce disease among wild deer. One deer wore a pink collar. The other wore an orange one.
The Carpenters said the officer shot the deer just feet from their house, but police denied that.
The complaint against the officer was not a criminal complaint but an administrative one, Peterson said. The Sheriff's Office's internal affairs investigation concluded that the complaint was without merit, the chief said.
A DNR enforcement officer, Capt. Greg Salo, said at the time of the shootings that nobody should domesticate wild deer by feeding them or adorning them with collars. Area residents had been calling the agency with reports of deer running with flashy collars, he said.
Kevin Giles 651-925-5037 Twitter: @stribgiles