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CBS4 Exclusive: Accused Valet Puncher In His Own Words

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Before the punch that left former cop John Kiernan charged with misdemeanor battery, he and his wife and kids spent a relaxing few days in South Florida.

“I was trying to have a nice weekend with my two kids,” Kiernan told a Fort Lauderdale Police detective in the days after he’s accused of punching and knocking out a valet at the Ocean Sky Hotel & Resort last month.

Kiernan said he and his family spent time at the Miami Seaquarium and Lion Country Safari during their trip.

Kiernan also made it clear that he’s amenable to answering questions.

“I am willing to cooperate with you 100 percent. I got nothing to hide,” he said.

The Broward State Attorney’s Office released the evidence Thursday. The interview was conducted over the phone several days after the incident that was caught on surveillance video and quickly gathered attention once it was broadcast on the news. Prosecutors took out any discussion of the specific accusations against Kiernan, which is standard practice in criminal cases. But Kiernan’s wife is heard on the recording and she spoke about her discussion with the valet prior to the violence. She said they were trying to figure out how to pay a parking fee for their friends who were visiting.

“He was like, ‘(Expletive), you gotta pay me $18 cash or you gotta get out of the parking lot now,” she said. “Extremely uncooperative and extremely rude.”

The valet, Rodolfo Rodriguez, told CBS 4 News on Thursday that he did not use any foul language, that he was not rude and that he didn’t provoke anyone. In fact, a witness that police interviewed backed up the valet’s story.

DETECTIVE: “It’s fair to say that the victim at no point was the aggressor?”

WITNESS: “Correct.”

The witness, whose interview was also released by prosecutors on Thursday, told police that while Kiernan spoke to Rodriguez, he kept asking him for his name.

“He asked him a third time very much more aggressively and loudly at which point, I believe, the valet felt threatened,” the witness said.

And then, the punch happened, the witness said, sending Rodriguez to the ground instantly.

Police: Valet Puncher ‘Did Not Demonstrate Any Consideration For The Victim’s Wellbeing’

After the punch, Kiernan told police he was afraid that Rodriguez had a weapon and patted him down while Rodriguez was down and out. The valet didn’t have a weapon.

According to the police report, Kiernan “… stated that the victim made a comment to him in the nature of ‘You’re just looking to fight.’ Mr. J. Kiernan said his life experience taught him this was an aggressive statement so he chose to hit the guy first.”

On the recording obtained by CBS4 News on Thursday, Kiernan told the detective that he left law enforcement with a clean record to pursue a higher paying job.

“I’ve been out of law enforcement for almost eight years and I have not put my hands on a single person in that entire time,” Kiernan said. “There’s no tarnish on my reputation.”

Kiernan told the detective that after the story and video made the news, it turned into a nightmare for him.

“Today alone I bet I’ve got 100 different phone calls with threatening messages for me and my family,” he said.

Kiernan is charged with misdemeanor battery. If convicted, he could spend up to one year in jail.

The victim, Rodriguez, told CBS4 News that he continues to suffer from occasional headaches and he’s scheduled to see a neurologist on Friday.

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