A recently released video shows police in Eustis, Florida arresting 93-year-old Juanita Fitzgerald and the raw clip is sure to strike a few nerves. Fitzgerald was charged with trespassing after the nursing home where she lived called the police, saying that she had not paid her rent.
The elderly woman has lived in the Franklin House since April of 2011, according to a spokeswoman for National Church Residences, who owns the home. The spokeswoman told WKMG that Fitzgerald stopped paying rent because she thought she was going to die soon. Officials at the home say that they contacted her family on several occasions and even spoke with homeless agencies but Fitzgerald refused help.
The police report states that, on the day before the cops arrived, workers told Fitzgerald several times that she was going to be evicted and asked her to leave the property. She reportedly responded “unless you carry me out of here, I’m not going anywhere,” and refused to gather her belongings.
In the video, Fitzgerald is seen falling out of her walker, but the arrest affidavit claims that she “intentionally slid out of her chair.” According to that report, officers say that they were able to safely and successfully remove her from the home. Moments later, a woman says “I want her to go in my car — I would love for her to go in my car.” However, when she tries to pick Fitzgerald up, the elderly woman begins screaming. Throughout the video, she cries “you’re hurting me” while officers continuously say that they’re just trying to help her. Eventually, they manage to get her in the back of the police car.
A WKMG reporter visited the prison where Fitzgerald is being held on $500 bond and the elderly Florida woman said that it’s untrue that she didn’t pay rent because she expected to die. She explained “I don’t have anybody. My family is in Tennessee and I told them not to tell my son anything that’s going on … I don’t want them to help me. I don’t need no help.” Fitzgerald claims that she tried to pay rent in October but the center refused to take her money. WFTV notes that Juanita turns 94 on Friday.
The spokeswoman for the Franklin House called the incident “extremely rare,” adding “we try to find places for people.” She also noted that National Church Residences owns 340 properties.