Pennsylvania State Police are conducting a criminal investigation into two troopers for the killing of a horse on a highway onramp in southern Chester County.

A source familiar with the matter said investigators are examining the methods troopers used to corral and, later, euthanize the horse and whether they involved animal cruelty.

The horse had escaped from an Amish farm along U.S. Route 1 and State Road 10, just under two miles from downtown Oxford and about three miles east of the Lancaster County line.

LNP | LancasterOnline located the horse’s owner on April 8, but he did not want to talk for a story.

A state police spokesperson would not confirm details provided to LNP, nor identify the two troopers, but did confirm the criminal investigation.

The incident began Dec. 28, when police were dispatched about 11:50 p.m. for a report of a horse in the roadway, according to Lt. Adam Reed. However, the agency only became aware of potential wrongdoing in March; he would not say how investigators became aware.

“Responding members euthanized the horse after determining it was a safety hazard to motorists. The incident is under active criminal investigation. The involved members have been placed on Restricted Duty Status,” Reed said in an email. 

The troopers were placed on restricted duty March 15. That means they can only perform administrative duties “during the pendency of an investigation for a possible serious violation of law or policy,” Reed said.

Findings of the criminal investigation will be shared with the Chester County District Attorney’s office, which will decide whether to file charges, Reed said. A separate state police administrative investigation will follow the criminal investigation.

State police regulations address killing animals.

The relevant portion states: “Members may use a firearm to kill a dangerous animal in self-defense or defense of another person, or to terminate the suffering of a critically injured or sick animal, when other means of disposal are impractical…. All actions taken shall be documented in the appropriate report.”

The troopers work out of the Avondale station of Troop J, which serves parts of Lancaster, Chester and York counties. Troop J has 254 troopers.

Spotlight PA reporter Angela Couloumbis contributed to this story.

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