A few weeks ago, three days before the
Miami city election, Marc Sarnoff got into a brief tussle with Reid
Welch, a Coconut Grove resident who admits to huffing propane gas to
get high and who was going around the neighborhood taking down the
city commissioner's campaign signs. Sarnoff cast himself as the hero
in an interview with NBC Miami, claiming he saw Welch threatening a
neighbor near his house on Virginia Street.
But a Miami police
incident report obtained by Banana Republican identifies Welch as the
victim and indicates Sarnoff was the one acting crazy.
This is what Sarnoff told NBC Miami: "As I approached him, I saw that he was pointing the spray can at her. I know that he has box cutters because he has box cutters in his pockets all the time. I became concerned. I took him down and got him in a position that he couldn't harm anyone and waited for the authorities to come."
Sarnoff did not return a message left on his cell phone voice mail seeking comment.
According to the police report, Welch did not have any box cutters, just a can of spray paint that he was using to deface a campaign sign he had lifted from Sarnoff's front yard. When Sarnoff caught Welch vandalizing his sign, the commissioner apparently lost it.
Sarnoff pinned Welch to the ground and screamed, "I'll kill you! I've had enough of you!" Welch defended himself by spraying paint on Sarnoff, according to the report.
Sarnoff, who was reelected on Nov. 2, was not arrested, but the report says the investigation continues. The commissioner also appears to be building up a defense strategy. He and his wife Teresa have obtained temporary restraining order against Welch.
Sarnoff is represented by an assistant city attorney and his wife is represented by Jay Solowsky, a downtown Miami lawyer who does pro bono work for the Downtown Development Authority, a city agency chaired by the city commissioner. Solowsky also sub leases office space to Sarnoff's private law practice. Yet, Solowsky insists he doesn't have a conflict representing Sarnoff's spouse.
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Solowsky claims Welch left a death threat on Sarnoff's voicemail. "He told Marc that he will be dying soon and that it will be a slow painful death," Solowsky says. "The fact Marc is a public figure doesn't mean he and his wife don't have the right to be safe and secure from Mr. Welch."
Welch cannot come within 500 feet of the Sarnoffs, pass by their home, or harrass them via social media. (Welch writes about Sarnoff and posts videos about the commissioner on a cycling message board.)
On Nov. 19, Welch's attorney Jason Wandner was unable to convince a Miami-Dade circuit judge to dismiss the Sarnoffs' request for a permanent stay-away order. The matter was continued until Jan. 6. "The Sarnoffs have made allegations that Reid came at them with his bicycle and other harrassment that I doubt they have proof of," Wandner says. "Based on the police report, Mr. Sarnoff is the one who lost his cool and suggests that Mr. Sarnoff assaulted my client."