A South Florida family experiencing fireworks on the fourth., but this was nothing to celebrate. They say one of them was attacked. And you might be surprised who they’re pointing the finger at. Here’s the nightteam’s Patrick Fraser with our nightteam Special Report Firefighter Fight.
WSVN — The Silvestri family was looking for a couple of drinks, a pizza and some fireworks in Key Largo on July 4.
Jeanette Silvestri: “It was a family day. We usually go to the Big Chill restaurant to watch the fireworks every year.”
But the fireworks came inside the restaurant when Jeanette tried to take pictures of her daughter and a friend. A guy kept butting in and wouldn’t stop bothering them.
Janessa Silvestri: “He kept asking for a slice of pizza and I was like, ‘No, this pizza is for my entire family. We have other people here eating it’ and he was just like, ‘Give me a slice, give me a slice’ and I said ‘No.'”
The man was with another fellow and three women. Janessa said they all started making fun of her and her friend.
Janessa Silvestri: “All the women and the people who was with starting making comments like ‘Oh, they’re so fat.’ I was like ‘Look, you guys need to shut up. You need to leave us alone and get the hell away from us.’ And that is all I said and he just cocked back and knocked me out. That’s all I remember.”
Joseph Silvestri: “I seen the gentleman, well he’s not really a gentleman, cock back and hit my daughter. She went back a few more steps. He hit her again. She hit the concrete.”
The man accused of suddenly punching Janessa twice is a Hollywood Firefighter. One of the women with him is a Hialeah Firefighter. As Janessa was laying on the floor, her family says the female firefighter ran over to her.
Jeanette Silvestri: “I go there and I see this girl punching my daughter after this guy hit her.”
Janessa Silvestri: “I was crying hysterically screaming, saying ‘Call 911.'”
Joseph Silvestri: “To see your daughter get hit is one of the worst things you can possibly see.”
As Joseph came over to rescue his daughter, the two firefighters rushed out of the restaurant. Jeannette followed them taking pictures.
Jeanette Silvestri: “And kind of at a distance and I have photos, photos that I took of them as they were walking away.”
But Jeannette says the female firefighter, identified as Medilia Silverio Dunn, didn’t appreciate having her picture taken.
Jeanette Silvestri: “I guess that wasn’t a good idea because on the second or third photo that I took, Medalia turns around and sees me and charges after me and we then get into a fight there for a few minutes or a few seconds.”
By then, Joseph was outside coming face to face with the male firefighter, George Burns.
Joseph Silvestri: “I confronted him, in the parking lot, and said ‘What are you doing hitting my daughter?’ and he hit me. So you know, we get into a fight and a few minutes later the police showed up.”
Rachel Catanio: “He grabbed Janessa and punched her in the face.”
Police dashcam video shows more than a dozen people in the restaurant parking lot. According to the police reports we obtained, seven witnesses each told the same story, that Dunn and Burns attacked Janessa and in the parking lot you can hear Janessa’s friend tell officers what happened.
Rachel Catanio: “He grabbed me by the hair and punched me in the back of the neck, threw me on the ground. I’m now bleeding.”
Janessa was taken taken away by Fire Rescue.
Joseph Silvestri: “My daughter ended up in the hospital. She had a concussions and also has a vertebra problem.”
The two firefighters were arrested. Both charged with three counts of battery.
Joseph Silvestri: “I’m shocked that here’s people that are supposed to protect us and this is what happens.”
Apparently Burns was shocked he was arrested as well. According to this police report, while being handcuffed at the hospital, Burns told the officer ‘This was wrong, after all the things Firefighters do for law enforcement’ and went on to say that ‘He would never help again’. He also told the officer he had worked for the Hollywood Fire Department for 20 years and this was going to get him fired.
Patrick Fraser: “He was wrong. The incident had no effect on his job as a Hollywood firefighter and no effect on Dunn’s job with the Hialeah Fire Department. In fact, the Silvestris say they never heard from either fire department to ask what happened that night. When we contacted both departments, they told us if there was a conviction, they would investigate. Dunn and Burns wouldn’t talk to us, but Burns’ attorney would.
Ray De La Cabada: “The notion that Mr. Burns punched her in the face, knowingly, is absurd. It did not happen.”
De la Cabada said someone threw beer in the bar that night. A melee insued and Burns was just trying to get out of the bar with Dunn.
Ray De La Cabada: “If something happened, it was unfortunate but he did not intend to hurt anyone. All he was trying to do was get out of bar.”
De la Cabada said it’s not a good case against Burns and the state tried to work out a deal. If the Silvestris would drop the charges, the firefighters would go through a pre-trial diversion program.
The Silvestri’s said “No.” And they say a Monroe County prosecutor has indeed tried to get them to drop the charges, leaving Jeanette convinced the firefighters are getting the special treatment Burns asked for on the night he was arrested.
Jeanette Silvestri: “I would like to know what would happen if I punched, I would never, but what would happen if I would punch a firefighter in the face.”
The firefighters are convinced they did nothing wrong. The Silvestris and their witnesses say yes they did but the Silvestris believe, because the accused are firefighters, this case will go up in smoke.