Three men in Florida face aggravated animal cruelty charges in connection to a video that went viral this past July showing a shark being dragged behind a boat.
On Tuesday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office announced the arrests of Michael Wenzel, 21, Robert Lee Benac, 28, and Spencer Heintz, 23, CNN reports.
Their arrests follow a four-month investigation into a graphic video that drew outrage in July. The video depicted a blacktip shark being dragged behind the motorboat, violently being tossed in the waves created by the wake. At one point during the video, one of the men charged can be heard joking that he thinks the shark is “almost dead.”
The investigation found that prior to being dragged behind the boat, the shark had been shot. That, combined with the high speeds as it had been dragged, resulted in the shark’s death. The investigation also discovered that another incident had happened prior to the video in question.
“Because they first shot the shark, it warranted two separate charges for animal cruelty," explained Robert Klepper, public information coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Division of Law Enforcement.
The aggravated animal cruelty charge that the men face is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in jail, five years of probation, and a $5,000 bond.
All three men posted bail.