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Killing of mountain lion cub by Santa Paula police ruled unjustified

April 8, 2009 | 10:00 am


Nearly two months ago, a mountain lion cub (no, not the one above) strayed into a Santa Paula neighborhood. Police deemed the junior predator an imminent threat to public safety, so they shot to kill.

This week an outside review panel ruled the officers' actions were not justified and that they'd even acted beyond police guidelines.

Said Larry Nichols, a weapons and tactics specialist with the Burbank Police Department, who wrote the review: "The actions taken by the officers [were] not appropriate and outside of the department policy. No person was placed in immediate jeopardy."

They did not require a panel to reach that conclusion. The cub weighed a mere 15 pounds. It's a wonder they could even hit the defenseless critter. 

Police Chief Steve MacKinnon, who asked for the review and presented the results to the City Council this week, said that since the shooting, officers have been trained in less lethal techniques (beanbag guns). Here's a proper technique: Pick up the phone and dial the Department of Fish and Game, which has specialists trained in these matters.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Mountain lion cub born in the Santa Monica Mountains in 2004. Credit: National Park Service