SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBS4) – A freelance photographer is alleging that a member of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue went too far while he was trying to cover the air rescue of a man who was fatally stabbed in a nursing home facility Thursday afternoon.
Danilo Jose Mejia Salazar, 48, was stabbed by Gregorio Rojas while Salazar was working at at the Coral Reef Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
During the rescue attempt to save Salazar, a bizarre confrontation occurred between a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Captain and a freelance photographer Taylor Hardy.
Hardy says he was driving home along Coral Reef Drive Thursday afternoon when he saw the Fire Rescue activity. He says Fire Rescue was clearing a spot on the Coral Reef High School campus for a rescue chopper to land.
That’s when Hardy got out his iPad and started recording.
More than 3 minutes later, after Hardy says several firefighter paramedics saw him, Hardy captured this encounter as a Fire Rescue Captain confronted him.
“Turn around and walk away, you’re leaving,” the Fire Rescue Captain is heard screaming on the video.
On the video, Hardy made sure to get the firefighter’s name.
“Captain Smart?” Hardy said.
“Yes,” the Captain said. “Get it right here. Got it. Turn around and walk away.”
Hardy says the confrontation continued for several minutes as he stood his ground.
“Get out of my face,” Hardy said on the video.
“Turn around and walk away,” the Captain said.
Hardy walked behind some bushes but the yelling continued.
On Friday night Hardy returned to the scene. He told us it would have been a different outcome if the Fire Rescue Captain had approached in a more respectful manner.
“He came at me in a hostile manner,” Hardy told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “Hostile and aggressive manner. As a Captain that’s not how you act towards the public.”
Hardy says he was standing a good distance from the chopper and says there were other people driving and walking closer to the helicopter than he was.
“I’m thinking I’m behind these cars I must be ok,” Hardy said.
Miami Dade Fire Rescue tells us they are aware of this video. They also told us they are allowed to secure landing zones for rescue helicopters that will protect the public.
Criminal defense attorney Nelson Rodriguez-Varela said he believes Hardy should’ve moved.
“His failure to move could’ve constituted obstruction of that official action by the fire department and he could have easily been arrested,” Rodriguez-Varela said.
Taylor Hardy says he was simply exercising his first amendment rights and only planned to post the video on his blog.
“Photography is not a crime,” he said. “We have the right — the citizens — to record in the public.”
Hardy said he filed a complaint with Miami Dade Fire Rescue.
Miami Dade Fire Rescue tells us they are reviewing the situation and they have not taken any disciplinary action against the Captain at this time.