Joseph Amico of Margate, Florida was arrested this past week after he allegedly bludgeoned a raccoon to death, news sources report. Amico, 26, was booked into the Broward County Main Jail on charges of animal cruelty. A county judge set his bail bond at $25,000. It is unclear whether Amico has hired an attorney.
In the months leading up to this latest incident, Amico had been a “model employee” at Carl’s Patio, the Coconut Creek furniture store behind which Amico killed the raccoon. Paul Otowchits, the store president, immediately fired Amico after his arrest. “[The raccoon killing] was horrible, absolutely deplorable,” Otowchits said, “We are cooperating with the police department currently.”
According to reports, the attack occurred at around 7:45 Tuesday morning in the rear of Carl’s Patio, which is located in the 6800 block of State Road 7 in Coconut Creek. Amico and a “friend or co-worker” discovered the raccoon trapped in a dumpster behind the store. It is not clear whether the raccoon is a frequent nuisance there.
Amico picked up a piece of lumber and approached the raccoon, sources allege. Meanwhile, the friend reportedly began recording Amico. During the video, the friend can be heard shouting, “blast him, blast him… you knocked him out,” reports say. “The raccoon is captured on video on its hind legs reaching up to you and, at some point, you took a swing at the raccoon with the 2-by-4, fracturing its skull and causing it to die a slow, painful death,” a judge reportedly stated in court.
The county judge described the animal as passive and not aggressive. “All it did was stand on its hind legs for you just before you hit it with the 2-by-4,” the judge reportedly said. “Allegedly, police asked you what you thought of the raccoon’s behavior and you allegedly said, ‘it looked helpless.'” Investigators performed a necropsy and found the raccoon had died from a skull fracture consistent with a strong whack to the head, reports say.
The video the co-worker/friend reportedly took was later uploaded and shared on Facebook. According to reports, some people found the video offensive and reported it to authorities. Officers then began an investigation, which led to Amico’s arrest. It is unclear whether the co-worker has been charged.
Reports say this is not Amico’s first run-in with the law. He was once convicted of trafficking opium and spent three years in prison; he got out of jail in January 2011, sources say.
Raccoons are common pests in any areas inhabited by humans. They are known to be aggressive and are capable of killing animals raised by humans, including kittens and chickens. They can also be carriers of diseases such as rabies. Home or business owners who are affected by raccoons or similar pests are legally allowed to capture them and kill them “humanely,” according to the University of Florida. Captured raccoons, skunks, and other animals can also be released back into the wild, although they must be released near where they were captured.