Man Sets Cat on Fire, Watches It Burn to Death: Police

A South Florida teenager is accused of setting a cat on fire and then watching it burn.

Cameras were rolling as the teenager, who was identified as 19-year-old Roberto Hernandez, doused a live black cat trapped in a cage with some sort of combustible liquid. That’s when police said he lit matches and the set the cat on fire.

But Hernandez's grandparents say it wasn't a cat - it was a raccoon.

"There was an animal on the loose and neighbors were complaining about it," said Babelin Rodriguez, Hernandez's grandmother. "The animals kept biting the chickens, biting their legs, so they put a cage to catch this animal. When the animal was caught in the morning, he found that it was a raccoon."

Rodriguez believes the raccoon may have had rabies.

"All he would see in his head is that animal is going to get loose," said Rodriguez. "It's going to bite the dogs. The raccoon is going to bite the dogs and him, so that's the first instinct he had."

Witnesses saw the entire incident on nearby surveillance video.

The footage shows the cat jumping around the cage in extreme pain.

The incident happened in July of 2016. The then 17-year-old is facing charges of animal cruelty with intent to injure or kill. He is expected to face a judge again next week.

"Instead of the law chasing real criminals, murderers, child molesters, real criminals like that, they're attacking a kid that was a little over 16 when he was just trying to defend his family the best way he could," said Rodriguez. 

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