A young man who was once accused of mutilating 19 cats in south Miami-Dade is now suing the county and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for mishandling the investigation that led to his arrest, The Miami Herald reports.
Miami-Dade detectives had built a circumstantial case against Tyler Weinman, who was accused of killing and mutilating the cats in Cutler Bay and Palmetto Bay. But the case fell apart when a defense expert found animal bite marks – probably from a large dog – under the fur of eight of the cat carcasses, the newspaper reported.
Prosecutors dropped all 19 charges of animal cruelty against Weinman in November 2010, and Weinman, now 21, is suing the county, Detective Dominick Columbro, former Animal Services director Sara Pizano, the ASPCA and the University of Florida for more than $15,000 in damages, the Herald says.
The suit says that negligence by the county and University of Florida veterinarian Melinda Merck led to Weinman’s false arrest, as they failed to detect the animal bite marks on the dead cats.
“This young man was vilified in the media. It became a national and international subject. He became a pariah,” said Ronald Guralnick, Weinman’s civil attorney. “My client should have never been charged in the first place.”
Miami-Dade Police and an ASPCA spokeswoman declined to comment Wednesday, the Herald reported.