Police: Man bites off another man's ear

Suspect arrested on aggravated battery charge

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Connecticut man has been arrested, accused of biting off another man's ear during a fight on Fort Lauderdale Beach, in an incident caught on video.

Joseph DiDonato, 29, of Wolcott, Conn., faces charges in the March 18 incident at Beach Place at 17 S. Atlantic Blvd.

Witness Bob Tower saw the whole incident, which happened just feet from his kiosk. He said the man later identified as DiDonato started it when he came down the stairs drunk, yelling at everyone.

"The one that bit him was saying, 'I'm crazy,' as they were coming out of Hooters, and I guess the guy said, 'Yeah, you are,'" Tower said.

Tower said the man later identified as Jon Lindeman, 26, of Plantation, kept walking, when suddenly DiDonato ran at him, bear-hugged him and wrapped his mouth around his ear.

"He just, like, pounced on him. He just, like -- on the ear. I don't know what made the guy all of a sudden bite the guy's ear off like that. There was no provocation for him to, like, bite the guy's ear off. It was just words here," Tower sad. "The only thing the kid had left was the lobe."

Lindeman ran after DiDonato, and the two started throwing punches, witnesses said.

In an incident report, Fort Lauderdale police said an officer was working an off-duty detail when a passerby said, "Someone got their ear bit off."

The officer found the two men in a fistfight with about 150 screaming people surrounding them, police said. The officer said one of the men was bloody, and there was part of an ear on the ground.

The officer told the men, later identified as DiDonato and Lindeman, to stop fighting, but they wouldn't, according to the report. Police said Lindeman continued to go after DiDonato, so the officer stunned him twice with an electronic control device, and he sat on the ground.

"Put yourself in the officer's shoes," said Detective Travis Mandell, of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. "You arrive on scene. There's a large crowd screaming and yelling. You have two individuals fighting. One's on top of the other one, throwing punches. What are you going to do? You've got to defuse the situation as quickly as possible so no one can get hurt even further than they already are."

Lindeman, who was missing half of his left ear, was taken to a police car, where he told the officer, "Please get the other guy. He came up behind me and bit my ear off for no reason," according to the report.

Police said that after the incident, DiDonato tried to walk away, but officers stopped him. He was arrested on charges of aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability and disorderly conduct.

According to the report, Lindeman was not arrested, even though the officer used a stun gun on him, because the officer believed he couldn't hear the order to stop fighting because of the screaming crowd and his damaged ear.

Lindeman was taken to a hospital, where doctors performed surgery on his ear. Unfortunately, they could not reattach the severed portion.

Witnesses captured video of the incident and posted it on YouTube, where thousands of people have watched it. Click here to watch the video. (WARNING: Graphic violence, explicit language)

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