Christopher Bain, 44, of Crystal Lake, was acquitted of the misdemeanor charges, though he said he lost his job over the incident. Bain said he had never denied killing the squirrel by stepping on it — an "instantaneous" act he said he regretted, though he disagreed with witnesses who said he "stomped" on the animal.
Bain was dispatched to a Crystal Lake car dealership on Oct. 28, 2015, to help remove a squirrel that had gotten inside the service area.
"It was scared ... so I decided to call for help," said Matt Pease, the dealership's assistant service manager. "I called (Animal Control) to be humane about the situation."
But Pease said he was horrified with what happened next.
Employees told police that after Bain tried to tranquilize the squirrel using a syringe at the end of a pole, the animal ran out from behind a cabinet and Bain "raised his foot about 12 inches and maliciously stomped on the squirrel's head," according a report from Illinois Conservation Police, who investigated.
Dealership employee Matt Pease testified Friday that after witnessing the scene, blood formed a puddle on the floor and Bain laughed and said he "got it a little too hard."
Bain testified Friday that he acted reflexively and stepped on the animal as it jumped out at him.
Bain also said he'd questioned why he was sent on the call at all, explaining that he had not been formally trained to capture wildlife and that typically the agency only would respond to such calls if an animal was in distress or posing a threat to people.
Hey moron. Why didn't you bring a humane trap with you? Set it and tell the owner to call you when they'd caught it? What a crybaby. "I'm not even supposed to going on wildlife calls. I've never been trained!" Uh yeah, I suppose when dogs dart out from under cars, he stomps them to death too because he's "scared"???
He said that before going to the dealership, he had suggested that a wildlife removal group be called.
Bain said he spent about 30 to 40 minutes trying to capture the squirrel and did attempt to tranquilize it, but that didn't work because the animal bit through the needle.
"All I can say, it is unfortunate," Bain said on the stand. "It came out at me like a spider or a bug running at me from under a refrigerator."
Bain argued and said that DESPITE STOMPING ON THE TINY ANIMAL'S HEAD AND CRUSHING IT, he "hoped it would survive" and so he "placed the squirrel on the ground outside".
Prosecutors contended Bain actually threw the squirrel over a fence.
According to Pease and the police document, Bain LIED ON THE REPORT and said he took the squirrel and released it into the woods. But Pease said he later found the carcass on the opposite side of a fence on the property.
"Fresh blood (was found) on the tree branches above it," the police report said.
His attorney, Matthew Feda, said there was "no evidence (that Bain) did anything knowingly to alarm and disturb the peace. ... A wild squirrel jumped at him and he reacted. Unfortunately, it got hurt."
Judge Joel Berg, who issued the not guilty verdict, apparently agreed. Berg questioned why the case was brought against Bain in the first place and compared Bain's actions to someone using a mousetrap.
Hey judge. I eat meat and wear leather BUT I ALSO KNOW ANIMAL CRUELTY WHEN I SEE IT. I also understand what the word "euthanasia" means -- stomping an animal to death is NOT euthanasia. You may want to get a dictionary and look it up. It means PAINLESS DEATH.
"A squirrel is not a pet; it is a wild animal," Berg said. "It was in a business with employees, (so) by definition it was posing a threat to public safety. This was in the realm of his job."
After the hearing, Bain tearfully said he was relieved that he was no longer the "villain" but that the whole episode cost him dearly. He said he had to fight to get unemployment benefits from the county, had to dip into his retirement savings to get by and is now is working in sales.
|McHenry County was horrified by what Bain had done|
and 'released' him (either fired or forced him to quit)
"I enjoyed my time with animal control," Bain said. "I hope to be reinstated as an officer. I hope that I can get some training, what I think our department was lacking originally. I regret my instantaneous reaction, and if I could take it back, I definitely would, because this has been a hard year."
Let me tell you something. For the employees of a car dealership to come to court several times and then get up on the stand and testify under oath as to what Bain did that day says a lot. They didn't know this guy, they had no reason to lie. They did their civic duty because they were absolutely horrified by what they witnessed and believed it to be animal cruelty.
If they say Bain stomped this little animal to death in a malicious way, laughed about it and threw his body over the fence - I BELIEVE THEM.