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Waxahachie Police Officer Shoots Emu To Save Elderly Man

WAXAHACHIE (CBS 11 NEWS) - A blocks-long chase of a stray emu ended with police having to put the animal down for attacking a human.  It happened last Wednesday in southeast Waxahachie when the animal suddenly appeared in a residential neighborhood.  Feathers on the ground are a mute reminder of where the bird met its end in Malcolm Brigman's yard.

"First thing I saw was that durn thing coming,"  90-year-old Malcolm Brigman told CBS 11 News.  He faced German soldiers in the Ardennes in World War II---and then a very tall challenge again last Wednesday in his own yard.   "It scared me, you know, when it come out," he said of the animal.

Brigman was caught in the climax of a blocks-long chase of a stray emu.  Fully grown emus can be 6-feet tall, weigh 150-pounds and run 55 miles an hour.

"These animals are extremely powerful," animal control officer Warren Howell told CBS 11 News.

Howell, who had handled emus in the early 1990s,  had the animal under control once by sneaking up behind it.

"You always want to approach them from the rear.  Because emus have hinged knees that lift up to the front they cannot strike hard to the rear."  But he couldn't get it into his truck's dog-sized cage.   "It had different ideas about going into the truck.  I lost my grip on it when it pushed off the tailgate."

Howell and six other police and animal control officers tried herding and corralling it again when Brigman suddenly entered a danger zone.  "He stepped out of the shed directly in the path of the emu and there was nobody between him and the emu," Howell recalled.

"He 'rassled him and threw him down, but he couldn't hold him,"  Brigman said of Howell and the emu adding, "And it kicked him upside the head, I think, and down his eye.  And his stomach, arms."

Howell picked up the story.  "There are 6-inch talons that come out the end of those feet and if those get into you they can cause serious damage," he said.  He knew he and a fellow animal control officer were losing their battle to sit on and tie down the emu.

Brigman feels Howell and the others had to act.  "And he knew that bird was fixing to get up from there, so he just stood there and told the police, 'Shoot him, shoot him.'"

Police fired twice at Howell's instructions. "The Waxahachie police officer needed to fire two shots to field euthanize the animal."

Howell insists the choice  was either the emu or Brigman.  "Yes. We tried everything we could.  It's a very beautiful, majestic animal.  We wanted to do everything we could to secure the animal as best we could.  But once the citizen was introduced into the situation it changed everything about the dynamics."

No one knows who owned the emu.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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