CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Police are calling it one of the worst cases they have ever seen. Cheektowaga Police originally charged Michael Tortorici with a misdemeanor. The owner of Buffalo Pro Sound is accused of brutally beating and shooting his dog.
Tortorici’s attorney says, his client was in a “life or death situation.” Fifty-eight-year-old Michael Tortorici, who’s accused of killing his German Shepherd, faced a second arraignment Friday on upgraded charges.
Cheektowaga Town Judge Hon. Paul Piotrowski said, “It was brought to all of our attentions earlier this week that the Cheektowaga Police have elevated the charges, and have lodged a felony aggravated animal cruelty charge, along with a[n] endangering the welfare of a child charge.”
Tortorici’s attorney Frank LoTempio said, “The felony aggravated animal cruelty just means that there was a death involved, which, we’re not surprised that this charge was levied and raised to that, but it doesn’t change our defense.”
LoTempio maintains his client acted in self defense, after the dog became aggressive and attacked him. Cheektowaga Police say Tortorici punched, kicked, and beat the dog “Max” with a wooden bar stool.
After a 12-year-old boy took Max outside, police say Tortorici followed, beating Max with a two-by-four and then shooting him with a 12-gauge shotgun.
Animal advocate Ellie Stephens said, “It needs to be recognized that he’s a threat to society, in general, if he could brutally beat an animal that way when he was given opportunity to stop.”
Stephens and Renee Wojciechowski don’t know Tortorici. But Wojciechowski said she was so upset when she saw this story on the news, she felt like she had to come to court.
Wojciechowski said, “I have three dogs, myself. And it made me literally cry, to see that somebody could really abuse a dog like he did.”
LoTempio says when the facts come out, they will show his client is a family man and animal lover, who was forced to act.
LoTempio said, “It’s awful for him. He feels horrible; he can’t believe that his reputation is being maligned like this, especially in relation to how he feels about dogs and animals. It’s tough for him, it’s really tough.”