Gruesome Video Shows Florida Man Shooting Shark Before It Was Violently Dragged Behind Speedboat

A video has emerged appearing to show a man found guilty of animal cruelty shooting a shark, which was then dragged behind a speedboat, as a fellow boater is due to stand trial.

In July 2017, Michael Wenzel, Robert Lee Benac, and Spencer Heintz, made headlines after a video of them dragging a blacktip shark behind a speedboat went viral.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission launched an investigation into the video, and filed animal cruelty charges against the trio.

In 2018, charges against Heintz were dropped. Wenzel was charged with two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and one count of violating the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's rules. In February, he struck a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail, 11 months on probation, and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service, with half served in an animal shelter.

Benac is due to go on trial in September after rejecting the same deal, Fox 13 reported.

Now, a video shown to Fox 13 appears to show Wenzel shooting the shark four times. The footage was captured after the shark was dragged, according to Fox 13.

Defense attorney Anthony Rickman, who is not working on the trial, watched the footage. He told Fox 13: "We hear people in the background cheering him on, 'Shoot it again, shoot it again.

"And what's disturbing is the reaction of that animal thrashing in pain, jumping up and down the first time it's shot."

"What we have on this video is a shark that's clearly alive, a shark that's clearly affected by the shooting, affected by the shots that were fired into its body," he said.

Justin Petredis, the attorney representing Benac, told Newsweek Wenzel shot the shark before the animal was towed, and said the state and the defense agree with these facts.

"Mr. Benac had no prior knowledge that the shark would be shot," Petredis said. "Further, according to one of the State's own experts who has viewed all videos, the shark was dead prior to being towed."

"The video shown in this article is not new evidence," he said. "This video was in possession of the State and Fish Wildlife Conservation Commission prior to any charges being filed."

"Robert Benac did not commit animal cruelty," said Petredis.

If found guilty of animal cruelty, Benac could spend 10 years in jail.

In May, Petredis said of his client according to Cox Media Group: "We'll do our best to show the whole picture.

"And show what my client did and did not do and show that we don't believe he committed any crimes."

Commenting on the original video in February, Robert Hueter, Mote Marine Laboratory's director of the Center for Shark Research, told WTSP: "It's suffocating, beaten on the waves...[the] last moments of its life complete torture.

"They don't deserve the right to fish."

shark, great white shark, ocean
A stock image of a shark. Getty

Correction: This article previously incorrectly stated that the shark was shot after it was dragged behind a speedboat. It has been corrected to indicate that the shark was shot, then towed.

This article has been updated with comment from Justin Petredis.

Gruesome Video Shows Florida Man Shooting Shark Before It Was Violently Dragged Behind Speedboat | U.S.