This cat, Tate, was beaten nearly to death, according to an Urbana Police Division report, and was shot by officers to stop its suffering. An Urbana man has been charged with animal cruelty. Contributed photo

Police: Urbana man beat cat nearly to death, claimed it was a raccoon

An Urbana man has been charged with cruelty to animals after police alleged he beat a cat so badly officers had to shoot it to stop its suffering.

The pet’s owner, Rhiannon Brown, said the situation has made her uneasy and worried for her other animals. It was her daughter’s cat, Tate, that died.

“I was shocked,” she said. “Shocked.”

Darius Bledsoe, 69, is scheduled to appear in Champaign County Municipal Court next week. Officers were called to the 200 block of West Water Street on Tuesday night on the report of a man beating a cat.

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Bledsoe told officers he had been having problems with cats damaging his front porch, according to a narrative from the Urbana Police Department. He said he thought the animal on his porch was a raccoon and was worried it was diseased, the report says.

A witness reportedly called out to Bledsoe and asked if the animal was a cat.

“According to the witness, Bledsoe replied, ‘No. It’s a raccoon. No, wait. It’s a bunny rabbit,’ in what the witness described as a sarcastic tone,” the report alleges.

He told officers he “picked the animal up and flung it over a fence at the back of his property,” according to the report.

“When officers found the cat, it appeared to them to be a domesticated cat that was well taken care of, except that it was suffering greatly from multiple injuries,” the report says. “The cat was in severe medical distress, still laying where it had been thrown, with injuries to its head and neck, glassed-over eyes, unable to walk, struggling to take breaths of air, and bleeding from both ears.”

An officer shot the cat, the report says, to put it, “out of its great suffering.”

“I feel it was the right decision,” Brown said. She’s confident officers wouldn’t have shot Tate if he could have been helped.

But she’s worried about her dog that she likes to let out in the yard.

“If you can do that to a defenseless animal, a kitten, what are you capable of?” she said.

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