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Man officially charged with animal cruelty after viral video incident

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Posted at 7:11 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 12:05:26-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — UPDATE 4/20: Sheriff Carmine Marceno announced the arrest of 22-year-old Marcus Lynn Chiddister on charges of animal cruelty related to a viral video of animal cruelty.

During a Wednesday morning update on the case, Marceno produced Chiddister's rap sheet and announced this was his 45th arrest overall. Court records show offenses ranging from possession of tobacco as a minor to battery and possession of a firearm by a felon.

The dog in the video, Sheba, is on a recovery hold at Lee County Animal Services pending possible further adoption but was brought out at the sheriff's office update. Marceno says Sheba is making a quick recovery from her injuries.

The Crime Stoppers tipster who alerted authorities to the crime will be provided a cash award up to $3,000.

Our original reporting continues below:
A civil lawsuit has been filed to gain custody over an animal seen in a viral video being repeatedly punched.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint about a video of a man allegedly beating a dog in the backseat of a vehicle at a local RaceTrac gas station in Fort Myers.

According to the LCSO report, the man in the video was allegedly punching and beating a dog in the backseat of a vehicle parked at the gas station pump. While this was happening, another person had reportedly filmed the man beating the dog and posted it on social media. According to LCSO, the incident is believed to have taken place on March 29, 2022, between the hours of 3-6 PM.

The video that was posted had gone viral.

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On April 6, 2022, an LCSO Detective investigated the case and found the location of the RaceTrac at 4551 South Cleveland Avenue.

According to LCSO, detectives asked the cashier in the RaceTrac about the incident – the cashier had said she saw the video that went viral and the man looked familiar because he was a regular customer.

The Detectives asked the other employee in the store who also recognized the man. The employee then told officers that the man in the video was staying across the street.

According to LCSO, the video showed a golf Chrysler-four door sedan and a female with red hair, who was allegedly the driver, with a man who was wearing a white and blue wrap around his head with, a black t-shirt with red lettering, dark shorts, black socks, red slides, and a lot of tattoos on his face and body.

According to the video footage, the woman identified in the video was walking back to the vehicle when the man was doing something with the rear door. The woman then allegedly stood next to the driver’s side of the door and the man moved to the passenger seat and was allegedly punching something repeatedly that was in the backseat.

LCSO says that when the man left the backseat of the vehicle, a dog can be seen where he had been punching.

The man then reportedly left the RaceTrac at 4:23 PM and headed North on US 41.

According to the report, while detectives were at the RaceTrac conducting investigations, The man and woman reportedly pulled up in the gold Chrysler shown in the video.

The woman told deputies that the vehicle belonged to the man in the video and that they have had a pitbull named Sheba, who is 2 years old, for three months now,

Detectives then showed the video to the woman and she confirmed that the man in the video was the man with her and also identified the dog as Sheba.

She said that Sheba, the dog, had eaten their food and it caused the man to get upset and that he had struck the dog several times. She also told detectives that the man has hit the dog several times in the past.

According to the report, the man told detectives it was him in the video then after he reviewed the video footage, he had allegedly told detectives that there were clothes in the back seat and he was punching the cockroaches.

He also told detectives he got the dog as a rescue dog and that he would never hurt it.

Law enforcement went to the location up the street where the two were staying to take Sheba away to be examined at Lee County Domestic Animal Services.

According to the report, Sheba’s examination showed significant findings of fractured and exposed pulp capacity, hemorrhage in the left eye, mild swelling of the left and right eyes, and mild bruises around the right ventral neck area. The Dr. also concluded that the soft tissue bruising on Sheba is from contusions brought by blunt force – meaning the bruises were not by accident.

According to the investigation, LCSO hopes to get ownership of the dog but, the dog owners are currently not facing criminal charges.

Because the Sheriff is suing in civil court, there is no word on where Sheba is tonight or if criminal charges are coming.