Christopher Monzon, the attacked canvasser for GOP Senator Marco Rubio, pleaded the fifth on Monday when cross-examined by a defense lawyer for one of his accused attackers, raising doubts about the young Republican’s claims that the incident was politically motivated.
“In at times testy exchanges, Monson, 27, insisted he was targeted for his beliefs. He also refused to answer some questions – including whether he changed his story only after Rubio’s tweet the day after the beating. At the hospital the next day, after Rubio’s tweet, he told Hialeah police detectives the attack was politically motivated,” The Miami Herald wrote.
Aileen Penate Hernandez – attorney for Javier Jesus Lopez – asked the defendant, “You want the world to believe that this is a politically motivated crime?”
In police body-camera footage taken immediately after the incident, Monzon makes no mention of politics being behind the fight, a fact not lost on Lopez’s public defenders.
“So you agree with me you didn’t tell them,” said Penate Hernandez.
“I mentioned the word ‘canvassing,’ which implied they had a problem with me canvassing there,” said Monzon, who insisted that “it was my interpretation of what happened.”
Penate Hernandez pressed the canvasser on his association with the far-right white nationalist group, the Proud Boys. Members of the Proud Boys were stationed outside of Monzon’s hospital room after the altercation.
“I plead the Fifth on the grounds I was not conscious at the time,” Monzon said.
Curious, considering just days later, the former Hialeah City Council candidate and self-proclaimed “Cuban Confederate,” appeared at a rally the Proud Boys held in his honor. Former Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia told The Miami Herald that Monzon is a “friend,” and that the patient’s father, Ray Cedeno, asked the militia members to keep the media out of his son’s hospital room.
Garcia was recently fired as a Miami-Dade poll worker after election officials discovered he’d been charged with multiple felonies for his role in the January 6th insurrection. Equipped with an ankle monitor, Garcia is awaiting trial.
Cell phone and body-cam videos contradict initial claims of an unprovoked attack. Even Prosecutor Santiago Aroca told the court he doesn’t believe politics were a motivating factor.
“This case is basically a he-said-she-said,” Penate Hernandez told the judge. “At the very least, it shows evidence of mutual combat.”
Original reporting by David Ovalle at The Miami Herald.
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