Key West firefighter arrested, suspended for allegedly battering girlfriend

A Key West firefighter has been suspended with pay after landing in jail Friday night, accused of felony battery on his girlfriend.

Manuel Pichardo, 37, was arrested at his Stock Island apartment at 3500 MacDonald Ave. after his girlfriend called the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to report a battery she said happened four days earlier, April 18. 

The 29-year-old girlfriend showed deputies photos of her bloodied face with a cut to her forehead and a swollen brow, according to the arrest report. 

She said during an argument April 18, Pichardo grabbed her by the hair and punched her in the forehead, digging his fingernail into her skin, the report states. 

Booked into the county jail at 6:15 p.m. Friday, Pichardo was released at 1:27 p.m. Saturday after posting a $10,000 bond. 

City spokeswoman Alyson Crean said only that Pichardo had been arrested after an alleged domestic dispute and had been suspended from his job with pay pending the outcome of the case. His hire date and salary weren't immediately available.

Pichardo told deputies he accidentally cut his girlfriend’s forehead with his fingernail when he poked her only after she hit him and wouldn’t let him leave, the report states. The incident happened at his home, deputies said.

But his girlfriend said the beating was a pattern of abuse, adding Pichardo had threatened to send nude pictures of her to her friends if she didn’t do what he wanted, deputies said. 

She took photos after she said Pichardo told her she would lose custody of her son if she called 911, according to Deputy Freddy Rodriguez.

Pichardo has battered her in the past, she told deputies, leaving marks and bruises on her skin that she tried to hide. Deputies reported that “she is in fear for her life at her job and her home.”