In a case that has some disturbing comparisons to the Bolger case out of Baltimore, a police chief in Atwater, Minnesota is accused of killing a boy’s pet chicken and then leaving the hen’s decapitated head near the chicken coop. Police Chief Trevor Berger was reportedly responding to a violation of the city ordinance prohibiting fowl and the failure of the Turnbull’s to comply with the order to get rid of three chickens and two ducks. However, like Bolger (who sit a dog’s throat), Berger is accused of taking horrific actions in response to a minor violation. Berger has since apologized by saying that he did not know it was a pet, but that still leaves the question of why an officer would decapitate animals and leave their heads on the ground in response to a municipal violation.
Turnbull’s fiancé, Chris Gordon, said that Berger was less contrite when the family called and asked him if he came to their home and killed their pet. He said that Berger responded with “Yup. Any questions?” Berger later also said that the uproar was about nothing and “most of the people think it’s rather silly” when “there’s such uproar about a chicken.”
The hen was given as a present to Phoenix Turnbull, 5, on his birthday.
Berger appears to view a proper response as including clubbing a small red hen with a shovel and decapitating it. He said that he was trying to respond to the complaints of a “frustrated” neighbor about the chickens running loose. Turnbull’s neighbor, Dick Rierson, brought pictures of Turnbull’s muddy poultry pen to the August city council meeting and later said that he objected to chicken living “in filth like that” and that such conditions could attract rats.
Berger said that he had to try for roughly ten minutes to catch the hen. After getting the other fowl into the cage, he “dispatched” the chicken in order to show Rierson “some results.” He said that he decided not to use his gun because children were playing nearby.
Berger insisted that his actions were legal.
Berger at the time said “I’m sorry it had to happen that way” and that leaving the severed head was really not meant to send a message. He thought it was still attached to the body when he took the carcass. However, it did not “have to happen” at all. I was not aware of police carrying out impromptu executions when a family has been notified of a violation.
Berger was asked earlier this year to present a proposed ordinance to allow chickens in the city. It will be presented at the meeting where this incident is to be discussed.
As for the neighbor, Rierson is quoted as saying that, if killing the chicken was the only way for the police chief to address the problem, “then I’d say he’s doing his job.”
I suppose that the family should be thankful that Rierson did not complain about truant or trespassing children.
Source: Twin Cities
Kudos: Michael Blott