The sister of a man who was seen on video being repeatedly punched by a City of Miami Fire Rescue lieutenant while handcuffed to a stretcher is speaking out to denounce the firefighter's actions.
Antonio Cruz had been brought to the emergency room at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Oct. 15 after ingesting heroin and cocaine.
According to police, Cruz was "agitated and screaming to the rescue personnel" before video from inside the hospital showed him spitting in the direction of Lt. Robert Webster's face.
Webster then starts swinging, punching the handcuffed man multiple times as his coworkers try to stop him, the video shows.
Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.
Webster has been relieved of duty and is under investigation, but told NBC 6 this week that he has no regrets over his actions.
“If he never knew the consequence of spitting in a grown man’s face, then consider my actions public education and this video a PSA," Webster told NBC 6 on Tuesday.
U.S. & World
Cruz is currently incarcerated in a separate incident.
Cruz's sister, Janely Alayon, said she saw the footage on the news in New York where she lives and wanted to speak on his behalf.
"I was very disturbed when I saw it here in New York, cause I don't reside in Miami, we have family in Miami but I am in New York. I was more disturbed when I saw the video in the New York news and I believe Mr. Robert Webster made a comment that he wasn't remorseful and he would repeat the action that he did if that was to happen again," Alayon said in a video interview with NBC 6. "So he made a public service announcement and I wanted to make sure that my brother's voice was heard as well cause unfortunately he's incarcerated so I am his voice."
Alayon said the video clip only tells part of the story.
“We are only seeing a 40-second clip. I don’t think that’s fair,” she said.
Alayon is not defending her brother’s actions, but claims spitting was his only defense to an assault that Cruz said started while he was handcuffed in the ambulance.
Those claims have not been confirmed by the hospital or Miami Fire Department, which said it cannot comment on an active investigation.
Cruz’s family acknowledges that he battles with drug addiction and has a troubled past with the law, but the family said that doesn’t justify the repeated blows to his head. Alayon said the type of behavior by Webster is unacceptable.
"I was appalled that I saw this man…physically assault my brother because my brother spat in his direction," she said. "If you are a law enforcement, if you are a firefighter, if you're a rescue, you don't take matters into your owns hands, you don't."
She added that she believes Webster deserves harsher discipline.
"There's consequences for every action and this man needs to be prosecuted, him being relieved of duty is not enough for us," Alayon said. "He needs to be fired and prosecuted, you cannot put your hands on someone the way that you did."
Reached for comment Friday, Webster told NBC 6 that after 29 years he has decided to retire from the fire department.