LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – A federally protected horse was found buried and another found severely injured nearby in the Spring Mountains.

Several residents in the Cold Creek community told FOX5 that Officer Adria Ford with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and her husband were the ones to bury the horse in a shallow grave by a busy road.

The incident happened in March, since then FOX5 has taken the time to interview residents and gather information regarding federal rules when it comes to protecting wild horses and burros.

Resident Pricilla Benedict and her horses live in the Cold Creek Community in the Spring Mountains.

It is an area full of wild life, including many wild horses and burros.

“We see a lot of the same herds and horses so we know them they are like family to us,” Benedict said.

However, those horses are protected by the federal government as they tend to be stay on federally protected land.

Benedict tells FOX5 given how big and powerful horses are, they amaze her.

This is why she was caught off guard on the morning of March 5. She saw a crowd of those horses gathering around the road.

“There were tons of horses in the road,” Benedict said. “We had to slow down and brake.”

It did not take Benedict long to realize there was a dead horse buried on the side of the road.

“One of the herd mates one of the younger ones was just standing on top of it sniffing the body,” Benedict said.

Not too far away, there was a second horse badly injured and it became clear to Benedict the two horses were likely hit by a car.

FOX5 was sent a photo of a horse found injured in the Spring Mountains area.(Nearby resident who wishes to remain anonymous)

“She kept trying to walk on the leg but obviously she could not put pressure on it,” Benedict said of the other injured horse.

By now, there was a dead horse and second one injured nearby.

“We see this second horse here and don’t know how long it is going to take for the Bureau of Land Management to come,” Benedict said.

The BLM is in charge of this particular federal land.

The law says these wild horses and burros are the living symbols of the west and the BLM and U.S. Forest Service are responsible for managing and protecting them.

However, it was not the BLM that residents tell FOX5 they saw on scene that morning.

“There was quite a bit of debris, a Metropolitan police truck and an officer in uniform on the road, there was a black truck,” resident Douglas Lynch said.

Lynch tells FOX5 he was driving to work early that morning and recognized the officer as Adria Ford, along with her husband.

“I saw one of the residents in a backhoe driving uphill which I thought was peculiar because it was federal BLM land,” Lynch said.

By mid-morning, word about the horses started to spread in the small mountain community.

Lynch said he continued his day, trusting that since Officer Ford was on scene, the horses would be dealt with safely and properly.

“Now it was after 9′oclock and sounds like this incident happened before 6:30,” Benedict said.

The community members tell FOX5 they later realized Officer Ford and her husband were the ones who buried the first horse by the road and left the other injured horse alone.

This caused a dangerous situation as herd mates gathered around two horses.

“Obviously these other horses are not wanting to leave this herd mate either,” Benedict said.

Lynch tells FOX5 this particular road routinely has damage to vehicles and wild life gets hurt. Later that morning, complaints about the horses started to come in to the BLM.

BLM tells FOX5 they humanely euthanized the second injured horse later in the day.

FOX5 received images from a resident that showed the horses were removed two days later.

FOX5 received a photo of a dead horse being removed from the Spring Mountain area.
FOX5 received a photo of a dead horse being removed from the Spring Mountain area.(Nearby resident who wishes to remain anonymous)

It is unclear where that first horse was killed, but according to residents that horse was buried in a shallow grave on the side of the road where it was visible.

Residents shared with FOX5 that they sent emails to BLM. According to those emails, at first BLM said it was an “illegal burial” but a few days later claimed the horse was buried “in good faith.”

FOX5 asked Lynch what he thought would happen if anyone else were to have done what Officer Ford allegedly did.

“It seems like a federal offense I would think,” Lynch said.

This is because it is a federal offense and that is coming from the BLM.

In an email to FOX5 Victoria Saha, John Asselin with the BLM said:

“It is illegal to move or bury a dead wild horse or burro and not notify the BLM, but the BLM was notified in this case. the act of burying was to shield a dead horse from public view. This would be the case no matter the person, or where they are employed”

However, the images of how the horse was buried showed it was still very much visible.

FOX5 followed up with the BLM with these additional questions :

So, if the BLM was notified right away, why didn’t someone from your team come soon after knowing what happened? Or offer to remove the horse before it was buried.

-Did BLM authorize the responding officer and her husband to bury the horse?

– When exactly was the BLM notified, and by whom?

Asselin responded by saying “The incident was reported properly, and law enforcement determined there were no criminal violations.”

FOX5 reached out to Metro police regarding Officer Ford, they informed us there was an internal investigation regarding this and a few weeks later said the officer did not violate any policies.

FOX5 reached out to Officer Ford, who happened to be the HOA president at the time of the incident, but she could not comment.

“It makes you feel like there is an unjust balance of powers and there’s some corrupt politics that could be on hand,” Benedict said.

FOX5 has made numerous requests to Metro for the documents regarding the internal affairs investigation but we keep getting denied. We also put in a request for body cam footage for officer Ford when she responded that day, but we were told it could take months.

FOX5 will keep you updated with any new developments.


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