Man seen on viral video kicking cat like a football sentenced to jail

Jamari Davenport, 23, was convicted in Fulton State Court on Monday, Jan. 14, 2020, on animal cruelty charges connected with a July 2018 viral video in which he kicked a cat like a football. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)

ATLANTA (WXIA) — A 23-year-old Atlanta man who was at the center of a 2018 viral video showing him kicking a cat pleaded guilty Monday.

Jamari Davenport pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in Fulton State Court following a presentation by Senior Assistant Solicitor Laura Janssen.

Jansen showed Judge Jane Morrison and a packed courtroom a video that police obtained from social media that showed Davenport kicking the animal like a football in front of a crowd at a southwest Atlanta Chevron station on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive on July 1, 2018.

In the video, the cat landed and ran out of view of the camera.

A month after the incident, Atlanta police released surveillance images of the incident, leading Davenport to surrender to authorities.

According to Jansen, the cat was never located and the extent of its injuries was never ascertained. Experts suggested that the cat was struck and landed "with such force as to have lethal consequences."

"Over the last several years, we’ve seen an increase in violence against both humans and animals. A predictor of violence against people is the cruel and violent acts against defenseless animals," said Fulton County Solicitor Keith Gammage. "We hope that Mr. Davenport will receive meaningful counseling so that he can be restored."

Judge Morrison said that Davenport was simply performing violence for an audience and went on to say that his actions warranted jail time.

Davenport was sentenced to six months in custody and another six months on probation. In addition, Morrison ordered Davenport to complete 240 hours of community service — none of which could be performed in locations with animals or children.

"We are overwhelmed with excitement that there has been justice for the defenseless cat who lost her life in an act of brutality," said Melody Paris, president of Georgia Animal Rights and Protection. "The conviction of Mr. Davenport sends a strong message to the public that animal cruelty is wrong and will not be tolerated."

The Atlanta Police Animal Cruelty Unit is credited with locating Davenport from the viral video. Atlanta's Humane Society provided expert testimony and criminality indicators associated with animal abusers and worked closely with prosecutors to recommend that Davenport not have further contact with animals or children.

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