PJ Nilaja Patterson is a Florida man accused of killing an iguana last year.

Patterson wanted the charge of animal cruelty dismissed on the basis of Florida’s “stand your ground” law. However, a judge has denied his motion.

According to CNN, Patterson is due back in court on July 30th and faces up to five years in prison if he is convicted of animal cruelty.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Who is Pj Nilaja Patterson?

In September 2020, PJ Nilaja Patterson was arrested after allegedly beating, dragging and kicking a 3-foot iguana in Lake Worth, Florida.

According to a probably cause affidavit, the iguana died as Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control was transporting it to be euthanised.

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Patterson’s attorneys said their client was trying to save the iguana from getting run over by cars but when he brought it to safety, a crowd agitated the animal and it bit his right arm when he tried to move it.

According to the motion, he then “kicked the iguana as far as he could”, and Patterson had to get 22 staples in his arm because of the bite.

His attorneys wrote: “In this case, Patterson acted in a reasonable manner under all the circumstances because the wild iguana was first to engage with physical violence during the encounter.”

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law explained

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law states deadly force can be used if a person “reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm”.

The Stand Your Ground law was passed in Florida in 2005.

In response to the motion to dismiss, Assistant State Attorney Alexandra Dorman wrote that the 32-minute surveillance video shows Patterson tormented the iguana, which was “not bothering anyone and did not pose a threat to anyone”.

Dorman wrote: “The defendant unnecessarily put himself in a position to be bit by this animal. The State’s position is that Stand Your Ground does not even apply to this case because the iguana is not a human being.”