A 72-year-old man has been arrested after pushing another, aged 86, from a Miami Beach apartment block lift, claiming he was protecting himself and his wife from coronavirus.
Portofino Tower CCTV footage from June 22 shows Nachem Gross shoving Gerald Steiglitz – and he now faces charges of aggravated battery of an elderly person.
However, the accused claims he was simply attempting to abide the building’s advice on social distancing, meaning only two people at a time can use the lifts.
The footage shows Gross holding up his two fingers – seemingly in reference to the two-person rule before pushing Steiglitz, causing him to fall off camera.
Steiglitz told NBC Miami he had suffered a bruise on his upper thigh, but claimed the pair – both seen in the video in masks – were friendly before the incident.
“We always were friendly, hello, and that was it. But he could have said to me, ‘go down, take the next one,'” said Steiglitz.
“He just pushed me out. I’m not looking for financial reward. I’m not looking for anything.”
Gross later handed himself into Miami Beach Police and he has now been released on bond.
NBC Miami reports his lawyer is calling for the charges to be dropped – describing it as “stand your ground” incident – and criticised officers for handcuffing his client and putting him in a jail cell.
“Law enforcement made a huge mistake today by arresting someone for essentially protecting himself. In this world of COVID, every human being right now is a loaded weapon,” said attorney Michael Grieco.
Miami-Dade County reported another 2,304 cases on Thursday, taking its total to 40,265 – the highest tally of any county in the state.
From Friday the county is to be put under curfew from 10pm to 6am in an effort to stop the spread of the potentially killer bug, announced Mayor Carlos Gimenez.