Daytona Beach News Journal

Bird-biting incident ends in fines, probation

Last update: June 02, 2005

EDGEWATER -- Firefighter Bruce Coates will spend the next six months on probation and pay fines for biting the head off a parrot.

County Judge Mary Jane Henderson handed down the sentence last week after Coates pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge for the Feb. 6 incident. Adjudication of guilt was withheld.

The 34-year-old New Smyrna Beach man must also undergo a substance abuse and mental-health evaluation; write a letter of apology; perform 100 hours of community service; and pay $631 in fees and fines.

In addition to the criminal penalties, Coates was suspended with pay from the Edgewater Fire Department for five shifts. Upon his return to work he was reduced two grades in rank and placed on a year's work probation. He also took a 15 percent pay cut.

However, City Manager Ken Hooper said Wednesday based on the judge's sentence, if Coates successfully completes the conditions of his "last chance" reinstatement agreement with the city, the firefighter should return to his former rank in the near future.

Coates was off-duty and attending a party at a neighbor's house when he bit the head off a pet Quaker parrot. After the incident, Coates told deputies he had been drinking and did not remember what happened.

Calls to Coates' home for comment Wednesday went unreturned.