LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — A 43-year-old man is being denied a defense that he killed an iguana because he “was standing his ground” against the reptile.
PJ Nilaja Patterson was charged last September with two counts of cruelty to animals after surveillance video showed him killing an iguana.
Patterson’s lawyer initially made it sound like Patterson rescued the iguana from the street, claiming the iguana attacked him for no reason and that Patterson retaliated against the animal because he was “concerned for his safety and the safety of the people around him,” according to court documents.
However, the surveillance video tells a very different story.
After bringing the iguana into the Lake Worth Cultural Plaza, Patterson looked to be joking around with his friends by circling around the iguana in a fighter’s pose, jabbing his hand out toward the animal as if he was trying to get it to fight.
When he was done with that game, Patterson then stepped on the iguana’s tail and scooped it up in his right arm. That’s when it appeared to be when the iguana bit him.
The video then shows Patterson fly into a rage, which led to him kicking, swinging and throwing the iguana.
At one point, the iguana tried to get away, but Patterson chased after it, grabbed it by the tail back to the plaza to continue the abuse.
Patterson went to JFK Medical Center to be treated for the iguana bite, according to his arrest report. Investigators filed charges against Patterson and wrote “when the animal attempted to defend itself, it sent PJ Patterson into a violent rage…(he) had multiple opportunities to regain his composure and stop assaulting the iguana, but instead, PJ Patterson chose to stalk the helpless iguana and deliver vicious strikes to the animal.”
Patterson’s lawyer asked if he could used the “Stand Your Ground” defense at trial, but court records show the judge said no.
“There is no valid legal argument that the defense could possibly have,” prosecutors argued. “The entire incident is objectively captured on surveillance video… In no way shape or form was this self-defense.”
Florida was the first state in the nation to create a so-called “Stand your Ground” law. It allows a person, who isn’t doing anything illegal, to defend themselves and use lethal force when attacked. It removes the legal duty that exists in some states to run away or try other options before resorting to force.