Coach: I didn’t mean to squash pheasant |

Coach: I didn’t mean to squash pheasant

AMERICAN FORK, Utah ” A high school football coach accused of critically injuring a pheasant that was released on the field during a game said he had no intention of harming the bird.

Richard Layton, 47, an assistant coach for Viewmont High School, stepped on the bird Friday and was cited for animal cruelty, a misdemeanor. The pheasant, barely breathing after the incident, was subsequently killed, police said.

Layton released a statement Wednesday in which he said that he is “a compassionate person with a respect for animals.”

“After several minutes of unsuccessful attempts by others to catch the bird, it came running toward me on the sideline,” Layton said in the statement. “In an effort to pin down the bird, I tried to stop it with my foot, causing me to lose my balance.”

American Fork Police Chief Lance Call said that after watching a video taken at the game he believes Layton “stomped” on the pheasant.

Two teens from American Fork High who released the bird on the field are accused of animal cruelty and disorderly conduct. Their cases are being handled in Juvenile Court.

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