Police say it started with a slap.
Floyd N. Lombardi, a disabled veteran and former hairdresser who is running to be Hernando County's next clerk of the court, said it began with a push.
Either way, Lombardi landed in jail Wednesday night, accused of slapping Maj. Richard Nugent of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
Lombardi, a 48-year-old local member of the Democratic Executive Committee, insists Nugent started the fight by pushing him at the Hernando County Fairgrounds. He said the two were arguing over an investigation into a bar fight in which Lombardi was injured two years ago.
"I thought it was self-defense," Lombardi said from the Hernando County Jail on Wednesday night. Lombardi, of 11038 Captain Drive in Spring Hill, was being held in lieu of $5,000 bail and faces a charge of battery on a law enforcement officer.
Nugent, a Republican who is seeking the GOP nomination for sheriff, declined to comment Wednesday night.
But according to Brooksville Capt. Terry Chapman, Lombardi's version of events hold no water.
"We've had no witnesses who have seen his side of the story," Chapman said.
What witnesses did see, he said, was Lombardi approach Nugent to talk to him about the investigation into the bar fight, in which no one was ever charged. That's when Nugent told Lombardi to talk to him the next day at the office.
"(Nugent) said this isn't the time or place and tried to walk away. That's when (Lombardi) grabbed him by the arm," Chapman said. "When (Nugent) tried to pull away, Lombardi pushed him in the chest and slapped him in the facial area with an open hand."