A Missouri man was distraught when he noticed someone shot and injured his family's pet turkey. But when he called to report the crime, the story took an interesting turn.
A sheriff's deputy shot the turkey, which has since died. The Bates County Sheriff's Office says the action was justified because two turkeys attacked the deputy.
Brad Clevenger first noticed something was wrong with his pet turkey when he came home Monday afternoon. His worst fears were confirmed when he got a closer look.
It was not easy for the Clevengers to see their pet walk around in obvious pain from what the family said is the result of an unnecessary injury.
"It's hard. It's real hard," Brad Clevenger said.
The Clevengers first got the turkey about a year ago with the intention of breeding him. They named him Mr. Camo.
"He's been like a member of the family. He's not just an animal to us, he's family," Clevenger said.
When he examined the turkey, Clevenger noticed a hole in Mr. Camo's neck and chest. So he called the Bates County Sheriff's Office to report the injury.
And that's when he said he was told that it was a deputy who shot Mr. Camo while that deputy was investigating a trash complaint at Clevenger's home.
"The deputy sprayed him first with pepper spray, and when that didn't work, the deputy went ahead and shot the turkey because he was in fear for his personal safety," Clevenger said.
Clevenger said Mr. Camo is not normally aggressive, although he did acknowledge that it is mating season. However, he said shooting his pet wasn't necessary.
"I can understand a kick or something like that, but I didn't think a bullet was in order," Clevenger said.
A vet has since put the turkey to sleep.
In a statement, the Bates County Sheriff's Office says they noticed a large pile of trash and trash bags in the back area of the property.
"The deputy noticed that it appeared that animals had torn open some of the trash bags and trash was blown everywhere," the statement says. "The deputy was walking up to the residence owned by Bradley Clevenger. At the time, turkeys began to attack the deputy. The deputy attempted to use less-than-lethal force but was unable to deter the birds. The deputy attempted to stop the birds for several minutes but was forced to shoot one of the animals before they would quit their attack."
The sheriff's office said it repeatedly tried to reach the owner but was unsuccessful. The sheriff's office says it has received previous complaints about the turkeys attacking both adults and children.
One neighbor said one of the turkeys scratched her child's face and her children were afraid to go outside, the sheriff's office contends. Clevenger was suppose to keep the turkeys from getting loose and attacking others, the sheriff's office said.
"After an internal investigation by the Bates County Sheriff's Office, it has determined that the deputy did not violate any department policies and has not violated any state statutes," the news release states. "The deputy acted as a reasonable person would by taking steps to include less-than-lethal action to protect himself."
The reports have been submitted to the Bates County Prosecutor's Office.
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