A man was arrested and charged in connection to the fatal beating of a small dog found at the parking garage of a Miami Beach Publix. The suspect, identified Sigman Hernandez, voluntarily surrendered to authorities Wednesday afternoon.
Hernandez spoke exclusively with NBC 6 as he walked into the Miami Beach Police Department headquarters, saying a detective contacted him and asked him to come in for questioning.
"I'm here to clarify things and to come out clean," the 40-year-old told NBC 6 reporter Jamie Guirola. "So, you're saying you didnt have anything to do with it? No, sir, I found the dog like that."
Less than two hours later, Miami Beach Police charged Hernandez with animal cruelty with intent to injure or kill.
Before his arrest, Hernandez denied the allegations and told NBC 6 he found the dog in an alley near the Publix and decided to take it so it wouldn't get run over.
"I didn't hurt the dog. It wasn't even my dog," said Hernandez. The 40-year-old added that he left the dog because he had to go to work and didn't know what else to do.
Hernandez later confessed to the crime, detectives said. An arrest report revealed the suspect slapped and possibly choked the little Yorkshire terrier because she vomitted in his car. He also allegedly admitted to pushing the dog with his feet while she lay on the ground.
Before his arrest, Hernandez told NBC 6 he tried to help the do after he found it badly injured. "I took it and I left it there thinking somebody would see it and help it out and it turns out the camera saw completely opposite," said Hernandez.
Police said the pup was found by an employee on the second level of the parking garage at 1920 West Avenue back on April 7.
Officers responded and found the 6-pound dog, which was severely injured and appeared to be dying, police said. The dog was brought to the Doral Centre Animal Hospital, where she was named "Lily."
Lily was in critical condition with seven broken ribs on her left side and two broken ribs on her right side, police said. She also had swelling on her neck and bloodshot red eyes which indicated she may have been strangled, police said.
Lily was given care at the hospital but died two days later from her injuries, police said. A picture of Lily in her final moments shows her resting on her side, bandaged and in pain and X-rays show the internal injuries.
In the exclusive interview, Hernandez told NBC 6, "I saw it on the floor, beaten to a pulp. It was crying. I decided to help it. But, unfortunately, I was working.
Jamie: Why didn't you call 911 or rush it to a vet?
Hernandez: It was late at night. I didn't know any vets around. Um, it was hard to think at the moment, you know what I mean. It was the first time I find a dog like that. I didn't know what to do."
Police said surveillance cameras at the Publix captured the suspect in a red Toyota Yaris in the garage the day Lily was found. The man is seen removing an item from his car near where the dog was found, police said.
At one point, the man iss seen bobbing up and down near where he placed the object, police said.
"It is strongly suspected that the subject may have been stomping on 'Lily's' body since he lingered in the spot where she was eventually found but it's unclear in the video at this time," a detective wrote in an incident report.
Footage Wednesday evening showed Hernandez being taken into Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, where he was booked on animal cruelty charges.
"I don't understand how someone can do this. I mean it's just heartless. This is a dog that is less than eight pounds and completely helpless," said Dr. Joy Carter, one of the doctors who treated Lily. "She was in pretty severe condition, she was obviously pretty much comatose, not conscious or anything like that."
"It takes a sick person to abuse, any abuse, to an animal or a child or anyone who's obviously helpless," Dr. Carter said.