Former police officer John Kiernan was allegedly caught on camera knocking out a valet at Ocean Sky Resort & Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on July 25 over a parking ticket dispute. Kiernan was reportedly not arrested or charged with a crime despite evidence of assault.
The surveillance footage shows Kiernan, who had parked his vehicle at the resort, walk up to the valet, identified as Rodolfo Rodriguez, and punch him in the jaw after a short conversation. Rodriguez, who is seen casually standing with his hands in his pockets, falls to the ground and reportedly remained unconscious for several minutes.
According to the incident report, the alleged incident took place at 9:30 p.m. last Tuesday at the Ocean Sky Resort & Hotel parking lot. Kiernan reportedly punched the valet because he was upset about an $18 parking fee. Rodriguez told police that Kiernan started yelling at him because of the fee and demanded to speak to a manager. Kiernan then told the valet that he was going to fight him and sucker-punched him in the face.
The police officer who questioned Kiernan decided not to arrest him and considered the incident a misdemeanor battery. He informed Kiernan that if the victim suffered substantial injuries, then he could be charged with a felony. The officer wrote in his report that Kiernan “did not seem too concerned” and did not “demonstrate any consideration for the victim’s wellbeing.”
Hotel manager Nigel Blair told news sources that the valet did nothing wrong; he simply explained the rules of the hotel’s parking fees and was attacked.
“The victim is knocked out on the ground. The ambulance had to take him away. The poor guy is unconscious,” Blair told The Miami Herald. “Ten witnesses state what happened and they didn’t have enough to hold this guy?”
Now that the story has been publicized by the media, Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione is changing the police department’s stance. He told the press on Monday that he believes Kiernan, who lives in Smyrna Beach, should be arrested and prosecuted.
“Generally speaking, the police department does not conduct follow-up investigations on misdemeanor crimes, but did so on this case due to the egregious and unprovoked nature of the attack, “ Maglione said in a written statement. “I understand how on highly publicized incidents such as this one, patience with law enforcement during the investigative process is in short supply, but we are obligated to conduct a thorough and objective investigation.”
Rodriguez wants to see the Kiernan charged for the punch. He told CBS4 that “he is still suffering headaches and pain in his jaw” and will be seeing a doctor for a follow-up in a few weeks. The hotel’s management also wants to see Rodriguez pursue a civil suit against Kiernan.
“All of the employees right now are very upset,” said Blair. “They’re under the impression that someone can just come in and do them harm and nothing can come of it.”