A Pennsylvania 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 Thursday.
Brandon Hoffman, 20, was charged 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 maneuver that is done by The Undertaker known as “The Last Ride” at his Jersey Shore apartment Tuesday. Hoffman had intended for the boy to land on the bed. In the move, the wrestler gets the opponent on his shoulders then throws him to the ground.
Authorities said the man performed another wrestling move that also involved dropping the boy on the bed.
Hoffman told investigators he tried performing CPR and took Bryson to the hospital instead of calling 911 in fear he would get into trouble. Hospital staff told police the child may have had a broken neck and a 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.