Firefighter caught on video punching handcuffed patient for spitting at him unlikely to face prosecution, law enforcement source says

 The Miami firefighter caught on video punching a handcuffed patient for spitting at him is unlikely to face prosecution, a law enforcement source told the Miami Herald.

What's the background?

Video shows the patient — identified in a police report as Antonio Cruz — brought on a stretcher to the Jackson Memorial Hospital emergency room Oct. 15 after consuming cocaine and heroin, WTVJ-TV said.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Cruz was "agitated and screaming to the rescue personnel," police said, according to WTVJ, which added that Cruz an be seen in the video spitting in the direction of a firefighter's face.

With that, the firefighter swung at and repeatedly punched Cruz, the station said, as the firefighter's colleagues tried to stop him.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

The City of Miami Department of Fire-Rescue said in a statement that the firefighter — Robert Webster, a lieutenant — was immediately relieved of duty following incident, WTVJ reported, and an investigation commenced.

Cruz was charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, the Herald said, adding that Miami-Dade Corrections records showed he remained jailed Wednesday.

'Consider my actions public education'

Webster told WTVJ he doesn't regret his actions — and added that "if he never knew the consequence of spitting in a grown man’s face, then consider my actions public education and this video a [public service announcement]."

Firefighter Caught PUNCHING Handcuffed Patient in Miami Emergency Room | NBC 6

What are observers saying about the punch?

Commenters responding to the YouTube video of Webster's punch seem to support his actions:

  • "If politicians can vote to free criminals after years of polluting our streets, they can allow this [firefighter] to continue serving his community," one commenter said. "He'll be disciplined, but he needs to keep his career!"
  • "Give this man a medal," another commenter wrote.
  • "I support the officer not the criminal on drugs," another commenter noted.
  • "Time for people to stand up for themselves!" another commenter declared.
  • "First responders and healthcare people are sick of being abused. I don't blame him, spitting in someone else's face would set anyone off," another commenter said. "We are all human."
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