A former police officer who was caught on camera sucker punching the valet at a Fort Lauderdale resort was officially charged with battery Wednesday.
John Henry Kiernan faces a misdemeanor battery charge in the punching of Rudolph Rodriguez at the Ocean Sky Hotel & Resort at 4060 Galt Ocean Drive last Tuesday. Rudolph's attorney, David Kubiliun, told NBC 6 one day before the charges were being filed.
"Even though they took a week we are very gratified and took the time, they realized the severity of what happened here and chose to charge this person with that crime," Kubiliun said.
Fort Lauderdale Police responded to the hotel but didn't initially charge the 37-year-old Kiernan, who is from central Florida. Surveillance video from the hotel showed Kiernan punch Rodriguez, knocking him to the ground.
Rodriguez told NBC 6 that Kiernan, who was a guest at the hotel, was upset over an $18 valet charge. Kiernan said Rodriguez was very disrespectful to him and his wife in front of his kids and that the valet told him he wanted to fight.
"He punched my face and I don't remember nothing," Rodriguez said. "He punched me for no reason."
Kiernan said from his experience as a law enforcement officer, he felt in danger for his safety and struck first.
"Based on everything I have dealt with in my life...and based on his body language, the way he spoke to me, I did feel he was going to go to physical contact," Kiernan said. "I didn't know if the guy had a weapon on him. So as soon as he said that I struck him one time and he went down."
In a statement Monday, Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione said Rodriguez had no visible injuries and said the video was unavailable on the night of the incident. Maglione added that Kiernan should be charged in the incident.
Kubiliun said Kiernan will be notified of the charge and won't be physically arrested but will be summoned to court.