A Florida sheriff is denying rumors that a deputy intentionally shot and killed a chicken earlier this week — and to prove it, he shared “graphic” videos showing how the chicken really died.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said the deputy unintentionally hit the bird with his vehicle on Monday morning in the Florida Panhandle.
“Unfortunately, we struck and killed a member of the fowl community, in this case, a chicken,” Morgan said in a four-minute video posted to Facebook on Wednesday.
But after the chicken was struck, someone who Morgan called a “quote-unquote-eyewitness” reported that a deputy had driven by the bird around 7 a.m. “with his passenger window down (and) shot the rooster,” Morgan said.
“These are statements that unfortunately have gotten legs on social media,” Morgan said. “Everyone wants to believe that the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputy drove by, shot an innocent chicken — if you will — through the passenger-side window of his SUV.”
The video shows something else, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
“There is no sound of a shot — but you do hear the impact of the bird, unfortunately, when it hits the windshield of the deputy’s vehicle,” Morgan said.
The two short, blurry video clips of the chicken’s death come at the end of Morgan’s explanation of the incident.
The eyewitness who reported the incident was arrested on false report charges, Morgan said in the video. Escambia County Sheriff’s Office records obtained by McClatchy identified that witness as Kimberly Henson, 34, of Pensacola.
Henson was arrested on Wednesday on the misdemeanor charge, records said.
A probable cause affidavit said Henson told police she and her child watched from a bus stop as the deputy “shot the rooster in its own yard (and) we watched it die.” That story is contradicted by video from the car’s dash cam and a nearby convenience store, which “shows the rooster was not restrained” and was running into a street when the cruiser struck it, the affidavit said.
The chicken’s owner also reported hearing a gunshot, but Morgan said authorities told the owner that officers had obtained videos showing “exactly how the bird met its death.”
The sheriff also had a message for those who created the rumors.
“I hope you feel really good about yourself, and the lies you’ve been spreading on social media in an attempt to demean and defame the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office,” Morgan said.
Within a day of being posted, the video had been viewed more than 30,000 times.
One Facebook commenter said she was glad the incident was caught on video.
“I’m just thankful our officers have cameras for this very reason!” the commenter wrote. “Keep your chickens in your yard, we do.”