TWO Durham Police firearms officers are being investigated over claims they killed an injured deer with a crowbar.

The officers had been ordered to humanely destroy the animal, which had been hit by a vehicle on a road in Tanfield Lea, County Durham, in June.

However, it is believed the officers are accused of ignoring protocol and using a crowbar to kill the stricken deer. Durham Police last night confirmed an investigation was under way, adding that the animal was “apparently not destroyed in [a] humane manner”.

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The officers involved have been moved to other duties while the investigation is carried out.

A spokesman for the force said: “It is not unusual for firearms officers to be deployed on occasions when a deer, or other large animal is clearly suffering as the result of being struck by a vehicle and the best action would be for the animal to be humanely destroyed.

“We can confirm inquiries are being made to establish the circumstances surrounding the destruction of an injured deer on a road in Tanfield Lea in early June. It has been brought to our attention that the deer was apparently not destroyed in the approved, humane manner.”

The approved method of humane destruction, according to the police, is to authorise the crew in an armed response vehicle to use their weapons to shoot the injured animal so that the death is as clean and quick as possible.

Officers cannot self-deploy their weapons and have to be given authority to do this by their duty inspector.

A spokesman for Animal rights group Peta said: “If it turns out that police officers did, in fact, bludgeon a deer to death, they should be not only struck off, but also locked up.”