Juanita Fitgerald was left shocked and embarrassed after being forcibly dragged out of the property by cops.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 21, 2021. It has since been updated.
93-year-old Juanita Fitgerald was forcefully removed from her Florida living facility by police just days before her 94th birthday. Understandably, the elderly woman was left shocked and embarrassed after being heartlessly dragged out of the property by cops. But she would soon learn there's still some humanity left in the world.
According to ClickOrlando, police arrived at the National Church Residences, a senior living facility, after receiving a call from the establishment about a trespasser back in 2017. Instead of being kind towards the helpless lady, officials handcuffed her, physically dragged her out, and seated her in the back or a cruiser. In doing so they made Fitgerald look like a common criminal and despite what had happened, she was only worried about her son as she asked them not to inform him about what had happened.
But her distress did not seem to bother workers at the facility one bit. Justifying their actions, the senior home claimed that that that the woman had been late to pay her rent of $161. Meanwhile, cops alleged that Fitgerald said, "Unless you carry me out of here, I’m not going anywhere." Apparently, they tried to be civil with her while escorting her out from the lobby but when she slid out of her wheelchair onto the floor in protest, they claimed that they were forced to physically drag her out.
The report also claimed that the 93-year-old woman grabbed the glasses worn by one of the officers in retaliation while being forcefully taken out. In the bodycam footage released by Eustis police, cops can be seen taking Fitzgerald as she screams. But Juanita later claimed that she did offer to pay her dues to the facility, run by a religious non-profit organization, but they didn't take it. Moreover, she alleged that all her possessions kept at the facility were gone following her arrest.
"I don’t have anybody. My family is in Tennessee, and I told them not to tell my son anything that’s going on," explained Juanita. But the owner of the National Church residences, which houses 46 seniors, said that Jaunita refused to pay rent because she expected to die soon. Apparently, she offered half of her possession in exchange for the rent but was declined. Whatever the truth may be, one thing was absolutely clear that an establishment that claims to cater to the elderly heartless threw out a helpless old lady when she was in a vulnerable state.
93 year old Juanita Fitzgerald says she tried to pay her rent but was refused. Says she did not tell them she was dying to get out of paying rent. She says that's a lie! Also says she's never been arrested before but has faith God will get her through! News 6 WKMG / ClickOrlando pic.twitter.com/JjE4wifKlx— Adrianna Iwasinski (@AIwasinski) December 14, 2017
Of course, her plight didn't go unnoticed by the public who responded with a swell of support after the news of her arrest was released. Kind strangers quickly raised money to post her $500 bail and the Mid-Florida Homeless Coalition helped by providing her a place to stay in a nearby bail. People weren't ready to let a 93-year-old woman end up on the streets and so they began doing whatever they could to help. B.E. Thompson, a board member for the organization, shared at the time that they were looking to find the best solution for her in terms of accommodation.
Nicole Lett, who helped set her up in the hotel said Fitgerald was fiercely independent. "I just couldn’t let her stay in jail any longer,” said Lett, according to NBC4i. "She’s 94 and she’s still feisty as ever… She doesn’t want peoples’ help she wants to be on her own. But unfortunately, she needs the help right now because she doesn’t have anything anymore." As for Fitzgerald, she said "I’m a born-again Christian and I’m spirit-filled," after being released from prison.
Eustis woman, arrested on trespassing charges, released from jail, one day before 94th birthday! We’ll hear from her and former neighbors on #TV27at10 & #WFTVat11 @WFTV pic.twitter.com/kXLpYr3zTU— Ken Tyndall (@KenTyndallWFTV) December 15, 2017