Warning: This video, while blurred, is graphic and depicts the drowning of a trapped raccoon.
A Florida teacher will not face charges after a video drowning raccoons and an opossum while teaching a high school agriculture class, but he has resigned.
Earlier in May, a student in the class recorded a video of the drownings and shared them with his mother, who then brought the video to WKMG. The video showed a raccoon in a metal trap being lowered into a garbage pail filled with water. Marion County School District officials said they were investigating the incident and the teacher was placed on paid leave, the superintendent advocated for termination.
The video was met with outrage, particularly from animal rights activists. Despite this, Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Brad King told WKMG this week that the teacher will not face criminal charges because he did not “torment” the animals and that the method of killing them was not “unnecessarily cruel.”
“(The teacher) explained that in one of his classes, his students raise chickens as a project that remain in a pen on campus. He indicated that the students cared a great deal for the chickens, with many of them giving the birds names. Over the course of a few weeks, he indicated that approximately eight chickens had been killed, with their dead carcasses left behind by the culprit. Over time, he determined that it was likely raccoons that were destroying the students’ farm animals. He determined it was best to trap these animals to stop the incessant and unnecessary killing of the students’ birds,” King said.
According to King, as killing nuisance animals is legal, prosecutors would need to prove the teacher unnecessarily tortured the creatures. According to this classification, drowning is not considered inhumane.
From the start, the school district said they were told what was done was not illegal.
“While law enforcement tells us the teacher did not do anything illegal, his actions before students are certainly questionable. Until our investigation is complete, I cannot share further details. The district is determining the status of the teacher at this moment,” a spokesperson said.
Regarding the video, the student’s mother said “It made me sick. It made me sick to my stomach.”
“When the raccoons tried to come up for air they had metal rods and they held them down with metal rods and when the raccoon would try to pop its head up they held water hoses in its face to drown it,” she said.
Due to criticism and pressure from animal rights activists, the teacher resigned a few days after being placed on leave despite there being some support for him from school alumni.
[Image via WKMG screengrab]