For some reason the New Bern police decided that a guy with a lot of chicken and roosters must be engaged in illegal cockfighting. That is how it looks from this news story anyway. They were serving a drug warrant and then took almost sixty chickens and roosters “as part of an investigation.”
The owner was never charged, and he never got his property returned to him.
The station reports officers also seized training muffs, a vest, syringes and antibiotics [in addition to poultry].
Byrd told the station in January that he hadn’t done anything wrong. “They’re show birds,” he said. “I show them at the fair.” He also explained that the muffs were used for breeding and the vest was actually a beer holder.
Earlier this month, the station reported that District Attorney Scott Thomas said there was not enough evidence to charge Byrd and he gave the go-ahead for the chickens to be returned, passing the buck to Animal Control.
“They were my pets,” he said. “The birds mean everything to me.”
Before he could get them back, some of the birds allegedly contracted “a contagious disease.” Some died. The rest were killed by the county government.
Scott Harrelson, county health director, said that the chickens were already sick when they were taken into custody, but Byrd denies that claim.
Byrd is requesting $50,000 in damages, for the birds and the cages that were ripped open during the raid.
The station reports that a police spokesperson says there is no plan to compensate Byrd for his losses.
As Copblock points out, no matter who is at fault, the police or animal control, the taxpayers are the ones on the hook. The police are given the luxury of risk-free raids and risk-free property seizures. When they take property for no justifiable cause, and some victimized citizen manages to take them to court and win, only the taxpayers are billed to compensate that victim.