On May 13, 2007, Orlando real estate broker Ana Maria Hazleton was at home when Orlando police officers responded to a call that there was a disturbance on her front lawn. The four officers, Brandon Loverde, Fernando Trinidad, Frank Sikos and Edward Albino, arrested Hazleton’s son, Anthony, who had been playing in the yard with a friend. After chasing him through Hazleton’s home and garage, the officers also arrested her other son, John.

During the course of John’s arrest, the officers allegedly threw him into his mother, who was trying to tell them that he had done nothing wrong. Hazelton alleged that Trinidad then pushed her into the home, while Loverde twisted her arm violently behind her back. Hazelton then ran into the home and said that she was calling her attorney.

The officers were not done yet, though. After having just told Hazleton to go into the house, they commanded that she come out. She refused, and they rushed into the home. Hazleton alleged that she ran for her bedroom, asking why she was being arrested. No answer was forthcoming, but the officers allegedly kicked in her bedroom door, beat her until she fell onto the bed, handcuffed her and then pepper-sprayed her in the face.

Hazleton was then carried to a patrol car and taken to the hospital for treatment of the burns to her face. She was transported to the local jail where she was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, interfering with an arrest, resisting a law enforcement officer with violence, and resisting a law enforcement officer without violence. After 10 hours in jail, Hazleton bonded out. The state attorney’s office ultimately dropped all charges.

Hazleton sued the four officers as well as Chief Val Demings and the City of Orlando. She claimed assault and battery, trespass, false arrest, false imprisonment, civil rights violations and malicious prosecution, and demanded $300,000 in damages. After a four day trial, the jury came in with a verdict for Hazleton, awarding her $88,616 in damages for medical costs, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and legal fees. A total of $8,000 of the award was in the form of punitive damages against Officer Frank Sikos, personally.

Case: Hazleton v. City of Orlando, et al., United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, Case No. 6:10-cv-00342-CEH-DAB (April 25, 2013).

Originally published in Criminal Legal News on December 20, 2017.

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).