An Alligator Walks Into A Bar: A Case Study Of Animals As Deadly Weapons

A distraught man walked into a Florida bar with his alligator and asked the bartender, “Do you serve lawyers here?”  Bartender, not knowing what to make of a man entering his bar with an alligator, began to chuckle a little and said “sure.”  With a big smile on his face the man told the bartender, “Good! One beer for me and a lawyer for my alligator!”

Lawyer jokes….got to love them.  Unfortunately, for some Wendy’s employees down in Florida, this joke is too close to home for laughter.

In recent news, a Florida man has been charged with tossing a live alligator into a Wendy’s drive-thru window.  Yep you read that correctly, a reptile known for eating any damn thing it wants was launched into a Wendy’s by a 24 year old jackass.

This all started when said jackass lured the three-and-a-half foot alligator from the side of the road to his truck.  After luring the alligator (maybe with candy?) to his truck, this good ole boy drove to his local Wendy’s to begin what he called a prank.  He placed his food order, drove up to the window, received his drink at the window, and then launched the alligator through the opening of the drive-thru window.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?!?

Luckily, no one was hurt and the game warden was able to wrangle this distant cousin of T-Rex.  But don’t worry there was no malice intent involved in this alligator incident.  According to Crocodile Dundee’s parents he was just playing a joke on some guy that he knew at the Wendy’s.  The mother was quoted as saying, “He’s a prankster.  He does stuff like this because he thinks it’s funny.”  A pie to the face is funny.  Live alligator launched at another human being….not so much.

Due to this prank, Mr. Dundee is facing aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, and various misdemeanor charges with regards to the alligator.

Full disclosure, I laughed the whole time reading how this guy launched an alligator through a drive-thru window.  It reminded me of my brother and his idiotic friends pulling a similar prank.  Only difference is they replaced the alligator with a large soda.  Prior to launching the soda back through the drive-thru window they would yell “FIRE IN THE HOLE!”  The biggest punishment they got was being yelled at by the on-duty manager.  They were true rapscallions.

Back to the crime at hand, let’s talk about the alligator being classified as a deadly weapon to show aggravated assault down if Florida.  Intrigued by this, I did some law-nerd research to see if an alligator or any another animal could be classified as a deadly weapon in Ohio.  Turns out it is possible.

Ohio Revised Code (R.C.) 2923.11 defines a deadly weapon as any instrument, device, or thing capable of inflicting death, and designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or possessed, carried, or used as a weapon.

Given that there are not too many alligator attacks in Ohio, I turned to cases involving dogs as deadly weapons.

In State v. Vinson, 2000-Ohio-3971, Cleveland Police responded to shots fired at the Vinson’s residence.  Upon making contact with Vinson, the officers observed him to become irate as he yelled at them for being on his property.  While the officers were trying to talk to Vinson, they could hear Vinson’s dog clicking his nails on the floor behind the front door.

Vinson continued to yell at the officers while keeping one hand on the front door handle.  At this point, the officers could hear the dog becoming increasingly agitated.  The dog now began to growl and urgently scratching at the front door.  Ignoring the dog and the officers, Vinson moved towards the front door as to reenter the house and yelled at the officers to get off his property.  Vinson then opened the front door which allowed the dog to charge the officers.

As the dog charged the officers, an officer recognized it as a full-grown pitbull.  Unfortunately for the pitbull, he was shot and killed by the officers.

During Vinson’s jury trial, the city Dog Warden testified that pitbulls are very loyal and protective of their owners.  In addition, the Dog Warden testified that pitbulls have jaws strong enough to crush bone and can hang on to anything their mouths grab for up to a half hour.

On appeal, Vinson argued that the state did not prove that his dog was a deadly weapon, that he intended to use the dog as such, and that he intended to use the dog to harm the police officers.  The appellate court disagreed.

The appellate court found that the state proved the dog fit the statutory definition of a deadly weapon and that Vinson knowingly used the dog in that manner against the police officers.

In other words, the court found that the pitbull was capable of inflicting death and was either possessed or used as a weapon.

Based on the above reasoning, I think it is a safe bet that an alligator could be considered a deadly weapon if it is launched at another person.

So for all you wannabe pranksters out there looking to score a fun time, leave the alligators alone and don’t throw them at people.  Just remember what the late great American Patriot John Wayne once said, “Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.”

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