Woman says stranger sucker-punched her outside Wood Tavern

Naomie Payen says man 'was staking me out'

By Janine Stanwood - Anchor/Reporter

MIAMI - Naomie Payen and her friends like to go to Wynwood on Sunday nights. It's their night of fun.

But this past Sunday, her weekly escape turned into a nightmare when she said a stranger sucker-punched her outside Wood Tavern.

"There's bruising and swelling, and I'll be bruised for about a week," she said.

Payen said it all started when she saw a man harassing a street artist, so she had words with him about it. 

"So I was like, 'Yo, why are you doing that? Like, this is how he makes his money. Like, chill out,'" she recalled. 

People who work nearby said they heard the commotion. Daniel Rincon, who was closing up a shop next door, said he saw a crowd.

"I just heard a lot of screaming," Rincon said. "And then I look, and I had seen this guy, and he had yelled, 'Oh, somebody better get that girl.'"

Payen said she ducked into Wood Tavern to get away. But 20 minutes later, when she came back out, the stranger was standing right there. 

"No warning, no shouting, he just punched me in the face," Payen said. "It's like he was staking me out. He was waiting for me to walk out to hit me."

As it turns out, a water vendor, Melvin Harrell, happened to be in the area and said he saw her on the ground.

"She had large bruises on both sides of her head, and I reached into my cooler and got some water and gave it to her, along with some ice," Harrell said.

Miami police are investigating. Management at Wood Tavern said they are working with detectives in case there is surveillance video of the incident.

Anyone with information is asked to call Miami police or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.

"I grew up in Miami," Payen said. "Like, I'm from the inner city. I know how to defend myself. But I wasn't given the chance."

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