FORT LAUDERDALE — Nigel Blair, manager of Ocean Sky Hotel & Resort, wants to know why an ex-police officer who punched out one of his valets for no apparent reason hasn’t yet been arrested.
It’s a good question, especially considering that even with some sort of reason, virtually anyone striking first and assaulting someone could expect to face severe legal consequences.
Not so for 37-year-old John Kiernan, the former Georgia police officer in question, who attacked valet parking attendant Rodolfo Rodriguez over a reported $18 charge that was in dispute. In a video of the incident, the two men can be seen talking with no particular hint that Kiernan was about to lay Rodriguez out with a swift hook.
Tracy Figone, a police spokeswoman, denied on Monday that Kiernan was receiving special treatment because of his 10-year history in law enforcement.
“The [responding] officer had no knowledge of what [Kiernan’s] past or present job was,” she asserted. “It had absolutely nothing to do with this investigation.”
Blair differs in his assessment, and claims that in 30 years of working in the hotel industry, he’s observed a standard operating procedure for police of arresting guests at once for any sort of violence, let alone an attack as severe as the one perpetrated on Rodriguez by Kiernan.
“I have seen them arrest people for just touching someone,” said Blair.
Kiernan, who owns and operates a gun store now, gave his side of the story as well, claiming Rodriguez is the one who was aggressive toward him.
According to police officer John Czech, Kiernan said that Rodriguez told him, “You’re just looking to fight.”
Czech expanded: “Kiernan said his life experience taught him this was an aggressive statement and he chose to hit the guy first.”
In Kiernan’s own words: “I guess [Rodriguez] finally got irritated and looked at me and said you are going to fight me. Based on his body language and the way he spoke to me, I did feel he was going to go to physical contact. I didn’t know if he had a weapon on him. As soon as he said that, I struck him.”
Rodriguez maintains that Kiernan hit him “for no reason,” and the video seems to bear that out, Kiernan’s flimsy justifications notwithstanding.
One is forced to wonder what use body-cams on officers would be if video evidence of wrongdoing can be so easily ignored.