On Thursday, December 14, police released Juanita Fitzgerald from jail after forcibly removing her following an eviction because she allegedly had not paid her rent for several months.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the elderly woman from Florida spent her 94th birthday in a motel room after spending the previous two days in Florida’s Lake County Jail. Juanita has called the National Church Residences’ Franklin House in Eustis her home for the last six years. So, the eviction and arrest came as a shock to the elderly woman. According to multiple news outlets, the facility called the police when Juanita refused to leave after they evicted her.
While sporting an orange jumpsuit during an interview with WFTV, Fitzgerald told the reporters she did not understand why the facility evicted her. She even claimed the facility had been trying to kick her out for a while, but never had a legitimate reason for doing so. In the video footage of the interview, viewers can still see the bruises on her arms from the arrest.
Body cam footage of the arrest of Juanita reveals her screaming and falling to the ground in her attempt to avoid the police taking her away. According to Miami Herald, a police report reveals the elderly Florida woman told police she would not leave unless she was carried out.
Karen Twinem – a spokesperson of the senior housing community – claims the decision to evict Juanita was the result of her “refusal to pay rent.” Karen noted the facility had been working with Juanita for several months to help her. Juanita, however, tells a different story claiming she did not need help paying rent and attempted to pay rent, but the community refused to accept it. Karen claims Juanita only ever offered a partial payment on her rent. Karen also noted those living and working within the facility had “mixed feelings” about what happened.
According to police reports, the officers never handcuffed Juanita when they transported her to the jail because of her age. A source told the Orlando Sentinel the bruises on Juanita’s wrists and arms were from shackles and restraints used at the jail – not handcuffs used during the arrest.
Juanita was released from the Florida’s Lake County Jail of her own recognizance. She has since had meetings with Mid Florida Homeless Coalition in an attempt to find her a permanent place to live. The elderly Florida woman notes she just wants to go home, but has nowhere to go.