JERSEY SHORE, Pa. (AP) — A man said he was mimicking a professional wrestling move when he inadvertently slammed his girlfriend’s toddler to the floor, causing head injuries that killed the boy, police said.
Brandon Hoffman, 20, was charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of a child, aggravated assault and other offenses in the death of 18-month-old Bryson Shoemaker.
Police said Hoffman was performing a wrestling move by The Undertaker known as “The Last Ride” at his Jersey Shore apartment Tuesday and had intended for Bryson to land on a bed. In the move, depicted in many online videos, the wrestler gets the opponent on his shoulders in a sort of reverse piggyback, then throws him to the ground.
He had earlier performed another wrestling move that also involved dropping Bryson onto the bed, authorities said.
Hoffman told investigators he tried performing CPR and took Bryson to the hospital instead of calling 911 because he feared getting in trouble. Hospital staff told police the child may have had a broken neck and collapsed lung.
Hoffman had been looking after Bryson while the boy’s mother was working. Police said Hoffman at first told them the injury occurred when he threw Bryson into the air and did not catch him.
Hoffman was jailed after bail was set at $150,000. Court officials said he didn’t have a lawyer on file.
In a statement Thursday, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., in Stamford, Connecticut, said that “blaming a wrestling maneuver is a flimsy excuse for reckless behavior.”
“There is no excuse for a 20-year-old grown man to behave in this manner with an 18-month-old child. The death of Bryson Shoemaker is a tragedy, and WWE offers its condolences to the child’s mother, Sierra Shoemaker,” WWE said.