An Urbana man is facing a misdemeanor charge for allegedly beating a cat he told law enforcement he thought was a raccoon.
Darius Bledsoe, 69, of 208 W. Water St., was charged with cruelty to animals, a second-degree misdemeanor, following an incident on Tuesday.
According to a court statement filed in the Champaign County Municipal Court, at 8:34 p.m., Urbana Police were dispatched to Bledsoe’s residence in reference to a male beating a cat to death with a tree limb.
Upon arriving at his residence, police informed Bledsoe they were called about someone beating a cat to death and he stated “I don’t know if it was a cat or a raccoon, I think it was a raccoon.” Bledsoe stated he hit the animal with a broom handle.
Bledsoe said he was on his porch and observed an animal laying in the corner of his porch on the ledge. He stated he tried to “shoo” the animal away but it just laid there and looked at him.
Bledsoe stated he assumed it was a raccoon with distemper or rabies and he picked up a broom handle and began striking the animal. He stated he then picked the animal up and carried it into his backyard and flung it over his fence behind his shed.
Officers asked Bledsoe if he could tell what kind of animal it was once he was carrying it and he stated he was pretty sure it was a raccoon. Officers also asked if a live trap on his porch was for raccoons, to which Bledsoe replied he had it because neighborhood cats kept tearing up the carpet on his porch.
Bledsoe told police he was not sure if the animal was dead or not but allowed officers to walk through his yard to the back portion of the property.
Officers searched the area for an injured animal and found a cat laying on its side under a pickup truck that was parked in a gravel driveway just north of Bledsoe’s property.
After the owner of the truck moved their vehicle, police observed the cat was a domesticated house cat that had injuries to its head and neck area. When officers tried to touch the cat, it began trying to get up and walk away from them, but could not walk and could not stand without falling to the ground.
Officers asked Bledsoe why he thought the cat was a raccoon, to which he responded it looked like a raccoon and added that he was protecting himself because the animal was on his property. He also stated the cat did not appear aggressive but it just laid there instead of running away as if it was diseased.
A handgun was used by police to put the cat down.
Upon hearing the gunshot, a West Water Street resident came outside and approached officers to ask if everything was alright. After police explained what happened with the cat, the resident identified the cat as her daughter’s cat.
The resident told police the cat had gotten out of their house four days prior but was usually an indoor cat and did not have distemper or rabies.
Police also spoke with a person who witnessed Bledsoe attack the cat. The witness stated Bledsoe walked out of his house with an object which they described as bigger than a broom handle. They also stated they observed Bledsoe hit the cat with the object at least 12 times.
Bledsoe then allegedly picked the cat up by its leg and begin to carry it to his backyard and the witness asked if the animal he was carrying was a cat. Bledsoe replied he said it was a raccoon and then said it was a bunny rabbit in what the witness described as a sarcastic tone.
An arraignment hearing for Bledsoe is scheduled for Aug. 1.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.