FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Fort Lauderdale police Chief Rick Maglione issued a statement Monday in reaction to a video that surfaced of a valet attendant at the Ocean Sky Resort getting punched in the face.
Maglione said that, with few exceptions, officers must witness a misdemeanor to make an arrest. This was one of those exceptions.
Rodolfo Rodriguez was struck Tuesday night by a customer after he'd told him that the parking fee was $18 per day.
The incident was caught on surveillance video.
"When an officer does not witness a crime, they must weigh all the factors available to him at the time to make that decision," Maglione said in a statement. "In the case of a battery, factors such as visible injuries, statements from the involved parties and statements from independent witness must be considered."
In this case, surveillance video showed a woman in red shorts having a conversation with the valet attendant. Seemingly unhappy about the outcome, she walked inside to see hotel manager Mark Dyer.
It was during that exchange that Dyer witnessed the punch.
Dyer said the attacker claimed that, since he was driving an $80,000 vehicle, he shouldn't have to pay for parking.
Police reviewed the evidence, including the video, over the weekend and determined that, in this case, "the suspect is identified and should be prosecuted," Maglione said.
"The victim had no visible injuries. The video was not obtained until the morning after the officer handled the call because it was unavailable the night of the incident," Maglione said. "The victim did not provide a statement or his medical records until Saturday. At this time, our investigation is complete and the case was submitted to the state attorney's office for their consideration and filing decision."
He went on to say that, generally, police do not conduct follow-up investigations on misdemeanor crimes.
In this case, it was done due to the "egregious and allegedly unprovoked nature of this attack," Maglione said.
"I understand how, on highly publicized incidents such as this one, patience with law enforcement during the investigative process is in short supply, but we are obligated to conduct a thorough and objective investigation," he said.
Maglione also pointed out that violent crimes in his city are down 11 percent.