Florida authorities arrested Brian Waddill, 33, on April 14 in conjunction with an incident in which he allegedly beat a lemon shark with a hammer.
Brian Waddill was fishing at Bicentennial Beach Park in Indian Harbour Beach on Dec. 20, 2022, when security footage captured him carrying out the alleged beating after catching the shark.
In the violent footage, Waddill appears to hit the beached shark over the head several times with the hammer, before dragging it around the beach for a short time, then returning it to the ocean.
Testimony collected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) supports the footage, which a wooden post anchoring a shade sail partially obscures. Witnesses said in the FWC report Waddill not only beat the shark, but then flipped it on its side and “used the claw portion of the hammer to rip out the shark’s gills.”
Waddill admitted to “applying blunt force trauma to the shark’s head” to the responding officer. Witnesses presumed the shark dead, the report said.
Officials issued Waddill a court summons in February for two misdemeanor charges: failure to return a prohibited species unharmed, and a violation against the harvest, landing, or sale of sharks. When Waddill allegedly failed to respond to his court summons, authorities arrested him, per FOX News.
It’s not uncommon for anglers to euthanize sharks after landing “for ethical or safety reasons,” as the FWC previously told one Orlando news outlet. But harvesting a lemon shark anywhere in Florida state waters is against the law — they’re one of the state’s 28 protected shark species, per the FWC.
The FWC report states Waddill told the responding officer the shark he allegedly beat was a blacktip. However, on review, a seasoned Florida fisheries biologist confirmed the animal in the footage is a lemon shark.
Click Orlando reported Waddill was released from jail on his own recognizance Friday afternoon. Intentionally killing or wounding any fish or wildlife species the FWC considers “of special concern” carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine on the first offense.