Is This Justified or Animal Cruelty
Is it animal cruelty when the wild animal attacks you and you defend yourself? But what if that is not the real story? The animal can’t explain what happened. But what if a camera is on you?
PJ Nilaja Patterson was arrested and charged with animal cruelty after allegedly beating, dragging and kicking a 3-foot wild green iguana in Lake Worth, FL, on September 2, 2020, according to a probable cause affidavit. The animal died at Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control.
Patterson’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the animal cruelty charge, but Judge Jeffrey Gillen denied the motion on May 29.
If convicted of animal cruelty, Patterson faces up to five years in prison and may face a $10,000 fine.
In their motion, Patterson’s attorneys said their client offers this story: Mr. Patterson was merely trying to save an iguana from getting run over by cars. When he brought it to safety, however, the animal became agitated by a crowd that had gathered, and bit his right arm when he tried to move it, according to the motion. It says he then “kicked the iguana as far as he could.” Patterson had to get 22 staples in his arm because of the bite, according to the motion.
“In this case, Patterson acted in a reasonable manner under all the circumstances because the wild iguana was first to engage with physical violence, during the encounter,” his attorneys wrote.
Florida’s stand your ground law states deadly force can be used if a person “reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.” Patterson’s attorneys said the animal was the first to engage in violence, so Patterson had a right to defend himself.
The lawyers also wrote that Patterson believed the iguana “could have injected poison” into him. Of course, the truth is that iguanas have no poison or venom to “inject.” According to the affidavit, “Thus he rushed to incapacitate the iguana the best way he could in order to preserve its antidote.”
An attorney for Patterson told CNN, he will “fight this case until the very end.” Perhaps, this is what gives attorneys a bad name?
Here’s the other side of the tale. Assistant States Attorney Alexandra Dorman wrote in response to the motion to dismiss that the entire episode was captured in a 32-minute surveillance video.
She wrote that the video shows how Patterson (who is 6-foot, 3-inches) tormented the iguana, which “was not bothering anyone and did not pose a threat to anyone.” She said there was no provocation or no justification for the actions.
The iguana – now deceased – obviously can’t tell anyone what really happened. However, forensic veterinary medicine can. According to the affidavit, Dr. Virginia Sayre of Animal Control performed the necropsy (animal autopsy), which found the iguana had a lacerated liver, fractured pelvis, blood in its mouth, blood in its abdomen and a lacerated tongue. Dr. Sayre also wrote the iguana’s fatal injuries were “painful and terrifying.”
“The Defendant unnecessarily put himself in a position to be bit by this animal,” Dorman wrote. “The State’s position is that Stand Your Ground does not even apply to this case because the iguana is not a human being.”
Green iguanas are considered an invasive species in Florida. State law allows people to “humanely” kill them on private property — a guideline generally interpreted to mean that the animal must die instantly and without suffering. And a guideline which some (me included) may not agreed with. It true, an invasive species – but it’s not the fault of that individual animal.
Dorman doesn’t mention but she should – that outrageous abnormal and aggressive animal cruelty is correlated to possible mental illness, and also possible aggression without provocation to humans.
Patterson is due back in court on July 30. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted of animal cruelty.
(Karen Conti of WGN Radio made me aware of this story)