Dillon Pearce told Ann Arbor police he didn't drive over ducklings in Hummer
Dillon Pearce, the man accused of intentionally running over four ducklings with a Hummer in a McDonald’s parking lot in Ann Arbor in April, repeatedly told a city police officer he didn’t hit the birds, a patrol car video shows.
“I swear on the Holy Bible I didn’t drive over them,” 19-year-old Pearce told Officer Kevin Kleitsch, who confronted him in a gas station parking lot after the incident.
But witnesses told officers another story, the police report says, including the restaurant’s manager, who said the Hummer “drove straight for the ducks” and the people in it “laughed as several of the ducklings were run over.”
AnnArbor.com recently obtained a copy of the video and police report from the Ann Arbor Police Department through the Freedom of Information Act. The records provide new details in the case against Pearce, who is awaiting trial on charges of killing an animal and possession of marijuana. Pearce is scheduled to return to court June 29 for a pretrial hearing in front of Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Archie Brown.
Pearce's attorney, David Nacht, declined to comment.
What witnesses told police
Debra Bell, the restaurant's manager, explained to police that a customer had called her earlier to tell her a nest of ducklings was near the drive-thru. Concerned the ducklings could be hit by a car, Bell and Craig Burkey, the shift leader, moved the nest and ducklings from the building's west side to a shaded grassy area behind a Dumpster on the northwest corner of the property.
Several men who had stopped at McDonald's earlier were sitting in a Hummer in a parking lot west of the property, watching as the nest was moved, she said. When the men had previously stopped at McDonald's, one of them attempted to capture a duckling, but a woman yelled at him to leave it alone, Bell told police.
After Bell moved the nest, she said the Hummer pulled out out of the adjacent lot and made a right turn into the restaurant's property. It drove straight for the ducklings and ran them over as the men inside laughed, she told police. The truck then left the lot, she said. Bell said she would recognize the driver and is willing to testify if necessary, the report says.
Police found four dead ducklings at the northwest entrance to the property. Restaurant surveillance cameras did not capture the incident.
Marie Louise Williams, who was working at the drive-thru, told police that other cars stopped to avoid the ducks. But she saw a big black truck head straight for four ducklings that were heading back to where the nest had been, she said. They were among at least eight ducklings in the area, she said.
Williams said she and Bell yelled, attempting to get the driver to stop. The driver's side window of the truck was down, she said.
Police question Pearce
Officer Kevin Kleitsch spotted the Hummer at a Speedway gas station on Plymouth Road and pulled up behind it, roughly 15 minutes after the ducks were hit. Pearce got out of the Hummer and was preparing to pump gas, when Kleitsch motioned for him to walk over to his patrol car.
On the video, Pearce told Kleitsch that McDonald’s employees were screaming at him, but he didn't know why. He said he suspected it was because one of his friends was trying to pet the ducks.
Kleitsch said he had video of the incident and witnesses to it. At one point, he asked, “Why did you drive over them?”
Pearce replied, “I didn’t drive over them. I swear to God...I swear on the Holy Bible I didn't drive over them."
Pearce explained that his friend "Moe" had gotten out to pet the ducks, but Pearce said he didn't hit them and even swerved to avoid them.
Two men in the Hummer with Pearce also told police that "Moe" got out to pet the ducks, but said Pearce didn't hit the birds, the report says. Those men were not charged.
Police smelled marijuana in the Hummer and searched it. In the center console, police found a small plastic medicine bottle with marijuana inside, the report says. The Hummer was towed. Pearce was arrested.
As Pearce was in the back of the patrol car being taken to the police station, he said if he hit the ducks, he would feel bad about it and it was a mistake.
“I wouldn’t hit ducks," he said. "Trust me."
Kleitsch said, “All I can say is we have all that we need.”
Pearce agreed to speak with police after being read his Miranda rights at the police station. He told police that he dropped "Moe" off at his house after his first stop at McDonald's.
Pearce then drove to a parking lot near McDonald's to pick up another friend, the report says, when he saw McDonald's employees put the ducks near the dumpster "in front of my car."
Pearce told police he pulled back into the restaurant's parking lot, planning to go through the drive-thru to buy "cookies or something" and didn't see any ducks. The report does not indicate that Pearce bought anything. Pearce said he left the lot.
Pearce told police that a woman was yelling at him when he drove away and he thought she was still upset about "Moe" playing with the ducks earlier.
He told police, "I did not see any ducks in the lot and I did not think I hit any."
Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and email at firstname.lastname@example.org