In torts, we discuss the common law rule that
words alone do not constitute assault.” That is a good thing for Joseph L. Binford, 37, in the criminal law context. When Binford was confronted Tuesday night at Dickerson Park Zoo in Sprinfield, Missouri, he immediately commanded the zoo cheetahs to eat the zookeeper. They declined.
Binford was found talking to invisible people and flailing his arms before he tried to enlist the zoo animals.
Notably, if the cheetahs responded, it would represent a fascinating tort issue. Cheetahs are subject to strict liability as wild animals. Even if they responded to command (a sign of domestication), cheetahs would remain classified as wild. The question however is whether they are under his command legally. Zoos, by the way, are subject to different rules in most states where negligence applies.
Fortunately, none of that has happened. Binford will face charges of disarming an officer, fourth-degree assault and first-degree trespassing. The charges stems from his refusing police commands, throwing a dinner fork at and officer and then struggling with officers, including grabbing an officer’s gun.