Surveillance footage from Lake Worth, Florida captured the more than a 30-minute-long attack on a green iguana.

43-year-old NJ Nilaja Patterson was arrested following the horrendous attack on Sept. 2, 2020. Since his arrest, the accused claimed that he merely kicked the animal after being bit by it. His defense attorney tried to invoke the Stand Your Ground law. However, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge, Jeffrey Dana Gillen, rejected the claim.

Stand your ground law that is applicable in Florida has been used in multiple high-profile cases. If an individual fears death or great bodily harm they can use deadly force to protect themselves. This law has never been used against a lizard before.

According to the accused’s public defender, Frank Vasconcelos, the iguana was the aggressor, Tampa Bay Times reported. The defense states that Patterson was trying to help the iguana cross the road by dragging it by the tail. After it was put away from the road, people started to gather and pet it leading to it becoming agitated. Patterson tried to remove the iguana away from people. When he tried to drag the animal away it bit the man.

Defense states that in retaliation the man kicked the animal as far as he could. Fearing that the animal’s venom was in his body he attacked it repeatedly. The accused claims that he had to get 22 stitches for the injury to his arm.

However, surveillance footage from the area showed a different story. In the video, Patterson could be seen taunting and kicking the animal. While his friends cheered him on, he kept tormenting the animal till it bit him in retaliation. Following which the man kicked and stomped on the animal leaving it nearly dead. Daily Mail reported that the animal tried to escape and even hid under a car. Patterson dragged it out and continued to torture it.

When Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control arrived, the lizard was still breathing but was unconscious. CNN reported that the animal died while being taken to a veterinarian. Necropsy showed that the animal had suffered a lacerated liver, broken pelvis and internal bleeding due to the man’s attack.

Prosecutor pointed out that the animal at no time posed a threat to the man. Iguanas are not poisonous and usually avoid human contact. In Florida, they are considered an invasive species. People are allowed to kill them but in a humane manner instead of the way that Patterson attacked the animal.

Gillen denied the defense’s bid to get the animal abuse charge against Patterson dismissed. He will reappear in court on July 30, if found guilty he could be jailed for up to five years.

Marine Iguana
A marine iguana in 'Playa de los Perros' (Dogs Beach) in the Santa Cruz island in the Galapagos Archipelago, on July 16, 2015. RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images

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