Tossing Beheaded Chicken Into Street Leads to a Fine

Chicago Tribune, March 8, 2006

ELMHURST—Like other officers who work the night shift, Elmhurst Police Officer Keith Yarka sees some strange things, but seeing a motorist leave a decapitated chicken at a city intersection was a first.

Yarka witnessed Jose A. Cruz, 25, of Sweetwater, Fla., toss a still-flapping but decapitated chicken out of his car on the night of Feb. 6.

Cruz told officers he killed the chicken for good luck because he was about to drive home to Florida. Police Chief Steve Neubauer said Cruz practices the Santeria, or Lukumi, religion, an African-based faith that originated in Latin America. Followers sometimes sacrifice animals, most often chickens, believing that they can receive help from deities.

Neubauer said decapitating the bird was not a crime because it is a humane way to kill chickens. Animal-control experts examined the dead bird and found no markings of abuse on it.

But Cruz wasn’t completely off the hook. He was arrested for littering. Cruz was excused from appearing in person at a court hearing Thursday. He pleaded guilty to unlawful dumping of garbage or other offensive substance.

A fine amount is still under consideration by the DuPage County court.

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