Ex-cop accused of punching valet attendant to be charged

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Authorities will charge a former Atlanta cop accused of punching a valet attendant.

John Henry Kiernan, 37, has been accused of punching and knocking out Rodolfo Rodriguez over a dispute over the cost of parking at the Ocean Sky Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

The act was caught on surveillance video on July 25.

Court records show that Kiernan is being charged with one count of misdemeanor battery.

Kiernan was visiting the hotel from New Smyrna Beach with his family. He told hotel employees he simply didn’t want to pay the $18 to have some other family members join him and his family at the Ocean Sky Resort, off Galt Ocean Drive. That is when he decided to punch the valet, Rodolfo Rodriguez.

According to the arrest affidavit, “[Kiernan] stated the victim made a comment to him in the nature of ‘you’re just looking to fight.’ [Kiernan] said his life experience taught him this was an aggressive statement so he chose to hit the guy first. [Kiernan] claimed he was a boxer and referred to striking [the victim] on the ‘sweet spot’ which is referred to the chin of the opponent.”

At the time, police decided to simply investigate and not take Kiernan to jail. But since then, the Broward State Attorneys Office has conducted an investigation, and they feel the evidence is there to charge him with misdemeanor battery.

Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione said, “If the officer makes the determination not to make an immediate arrest on the scene, that in no way means a suspect cannot be prosecuted.”

David Kubiliun, the victim’s attorney, said, “I think the video speaks for itself. It’s so egregious and so astounding that he’s actually able to sit here and even have this interview today because he was knocked out unconscious.”

Rodriguez said he still suffers from headaches and jaw pain.

“I feel good ’cause this guy’s gonna be arrested and take a charge from the police,” said Rodriguez.

“Thank God there was a video in this case because had there not been a video in this case, this gentleman probably could have gotten away with it,” said Kubilion. “I’m just elated that there’s going to be justice in this case.”

“The important thing here is this person is not going to be able to hurt anybody else,” said Rodriguez, “so this is important for everyone.”

Kiernan lives up in Volusia County, so he will most likely recieve a promise to appear, and then, at some point, he will have a court date. However, because this is a misdemeanor, he may not even be required to appear in court and can send a lawyer representing him instead.

There remains a possibility that Kiernan can be charged with a felony. That depends on the medical records on Rodriguez who still experiences headaches from the punch.

Kiernan’s attorney, Guy Fronstin, said in a statement, “The state made a rush decision to file charges most likely due to the publicity and public reaction to the video. We are disappointed that the state did not take the time to fully investigate this case as they do with all other cases, because if they had they would realize my client was acting within the law and should not be charged.”

Kiernan has not commented on the charge.

He had reportedly told the people at the hotel that he is an ex-police officer from the Atlanta area. What department remains unclear.

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