93-Year-Old Woman Handcuffed And Jailed And Officers Disclose The Reason


First Police And Then Screams

The usual peace was disturbed when patrol officers rushed up the stairs, catching the attention of the residents. None of them had ever witnessed anything like this before.

Everyone wondered what the meaning was and soon gathered into a crowd to watch, one of the nurses pulling out her phone to record it all. Then there were screams.


The Independent

This story has recently caused an uproar in the media and given rise to a debate about how the elderly are treated in our society. Some people believe it’s a regrettable exhibition of brutality and lack of compassion, while others think the situation is more nuanced.

We’ll let you decide by yourself after you read all the details of the story of this 93-year-old lady who saw herself forced to confront law enforcement.

Juanita Fitzgerald


Juanita Fitzgerald is a 93-year-old woman from Tennessee who has been living in a retirement home in Eustis, Florida, for the last 10 years.

Senior retirement communities are often the best choice for those who prefer to spend the autumn of their years living independently, yet among people of similar age and surrounded by qualified staff who can assist them in case of need. However, not all that glitters is gold.



However, conflicts can also sometimes arise in this type of environment. The peace and quiet of the nursing home were suddenly shattered when Juanita Fitzgerald got in trouble with the Lake County Police Department. 

When it happened, only a few people in the retirement community knew what was going on. But now, the reasons have been made public, and they’re causing a debate on whether it was a fair situation or an outrageous and unjustified episode.

A Solitary Lady

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Juanita was known by the staff and residents of the retirement community to be a rather solitary individual. She didn’t get along too well with her family; in all her years there, it seemed like she had never received a single visit.

She didn’t have too many friends among the other seniors either. And as far as the staff, her relationship with them was quite peculiar.

She Was Difficult Sometimes

Orlando Sentinel

Usually, she would be reasonably polite to the people working in the nursing home. However, when things didn’t go her way, she would sometimes throw tantrums and even get rude.

These episodes would typically not last any longer than a few hours. Also, the staff was kind of used to Juanita’s personality and knew how to handle her, so there never was any major problem with her. Until that day.

Things Changed

International Business Times

One day, Juanita started complaining more than usual. Suddenly, she seemed to have a problem with every little thing about how things were run at the retirement home.

The staff wondered what could have happened to explain this sudden shift in Juanita’s mood. Now her fits didn’t go away after a few hours: she stayed in a bad mood for weeks and weeks. And most of her complaints focused on one specific thing.


Twitter – Alwasinski

The lady complained that there was some mold on her room’s walls that made the space unhabitable for her. Every time one of the nurses entered her room, Juanita would go on long rants about how the mold was making her life hell.

A team of professionals inspected the room; however, no mold whatsoever was found on its walls. But after they communicated this to Juanita, things only got worse.

She Wasn’t Having It

Camille Atebe

She didn’t seem satisfied with the professionals’ report. And at this point, the details of the story get blurry, as there are different versions of it depending on whether you ask Juanita or the staff in the retirement home.

According to the staff, Juanita single-handedly decided to stop paying rent. But what was even more outlandish was the reason that she gave for that.



Juanita argued she was sure she didn’t have much time left in the world, so she would stop paying rent, as she could pass away at any moment.

However, Juanita’s version of the story is different. According to her, the retirement home manager just decided to evict her arbitrarily and would take her money even though she kept trying to pay rent. Unfortunately, the conclusion to this disagreement was an appalling episode.

Police Steps In


One day, a police car pulled up in front of the seniors’ home. A patrol of officers came out, entered the retirement community, and started climbing up the stairs as the shocked residents stared at them.

Then, everyone could hear the screams and shrieks. A minute later, the officers came down the stairs holding Juanita, who didn’t stop yelling at them to let go of her. Then, they got her in the car and took her to the station.


The Irish Sun

Soon enough, images surfaced of the 93-year-old lady sitting at the police station, handcuffed and in a state of distress, asking the officers to let her go home.

According to the reports, the officers had tried to convince her to pack her belongings and leave the building, as she had been evicted by the caretakers. But she refused. The officers argued they weren’t left with any option other than holding her and escorting her out of the retirement home.

They Sent Her To Jail

Public Domain

After the incident, Juanita stayed a few days in jail, as she didn’t have any other place to go. This has caused a big uproar in the media; many people have found how law enforcement has treated the elderly woman outrageous.

However, a few more details of the story have made it to the reports. Apparently, there’s more to this case than what it might have seemed at first glance.

Nuances To The Story


Juanita has admitted that the retirement home offered to find her another place to live when she stopped paying rent and before the police officers were called. However, she refused to move elsewhere.

After a few days, Juanita was released and started living in a Hotel in Tavares. However, she barely has any means to support herself and rejects any help that is offered to her.

“For God”

Public Domain

According to Juanita, the only thing she misses is her Bible, which she left in her old room in the retirement community. “I could probably get some more clothes. I’m not doing this for me. I’m doing this for God,” she said.

When the body cam footage from the police arresting Juanita made its way onto social media, it sparked a public outcry and became the topic of heated debates on Reddit and Facebook. 

Who Was Really The Bad Guy?

Public Domain

Only those there can truly say what happened with any footage taken out of context. But the evidence that we can see paints a good picture of what happened. It seems like both sides could be considered equally in the wrong.

One could argue that the police were only doing their job. She had been evicted and wasn’t complying with the police. But again, maybe it should have been handled with more understanding.

A Lot Of Opinions


No one would have batted an eye if the police had hauled out a tough-looking man in his 30s. So the question is, should they have acted differently under the circumstances of getting a 94-year-old woman out?

But when it comes to not paying rent and dragging an elderly woman out who won’t comply, which is worse? The internet had a lot of opinions to give.



While most netizens agreed that Juanita was in the wrong for refusing to pay her rent, the treatment of the whole situation by the police attracted a lot of backlash. 

“Damnit. Why can’t the cops just ignore the law and selectively enforce the law according to their own personal belief systems?!? What kind of world is this?!?” one Redditor wrote.



People were outraged by the way the police had manhandled a senior citizen, and photos of the bruises on Juanita’s arms began to circulate. 

And, to add insult to injury, Juanita was arrested just two days before her 94th birthday. The police, however, remained steadfast in their decision to arrest her and even released a statement defending their actions. 

Writing Up A Statement

Public Domain

The police department no doubt had to move quickly to cover their ground. They couldn’t just leave what had happened up to public opinion. So they decided to write up a statement about the incident.

They wanted to reassure the public that they could justify their actions when they took the elderly woman out of her own home. But would it be enough?

Defending Their Actions

Sky News

“Since all available options were refused by Ms. Fitzgerald, who appeared to have the mental capacity to form and make her own decisions, the officers had no alternative but to take Fitzgerald into custody,” the statement said. 

Juanita had been living in the Franklin House facility since 2011. But was the physical force used to detain the 93-year-old really necessary?

A Statement From Her Residence

Public Domain

After the police came forward with their statement, it looked like they might win the public appeal. But just as everyone thought things were settled, Juanita’s residence had something to say too.

Of course, they didn’t want to give any kind of biased statement that sided with one side or the other. Still, it stirred up even more controversy among the public.

“Extremely Rare”

New York Post

Karen Twinem of National Church Residences – which operates the facility – was shocked and appalled by the incident. “This is extremely rare… We try to find places for people,” she said.

She also reiterated that the facility had tried to get Juanita help many times before things came to a head. They had also tried to contact her family to let them know she’d been evicted.

Her Family

Global News

“I don’t have anybody. My family is in Tennessee and I told them not to tell my son anything that’s going on,” she said. 

Juanita has a 70-year-old daughter and a 76-year-old son, who, as she said, live in Tennessee. But, she said that her children have their own health issues to deal with and she doesn’t want to worry them or get them involved.  

The Footage

Lake County Police

The upsetting police body cam footage shows Juanita screaming at the police officers and resisting arrest. At one point in the video, she slid out of her wheelchair and onto the ground to make arresting her more difficult. 

Juanita screamed: “Ow, you’re hurting me,” several times in the video. It’s a difficult thing to watch – especially when you consider that what she owed amounted to just $161.

Both Sides

Public Domain

Now that many sides had given their view of the incident, it was much easier for the public to come forward with their opinions. It seemed that a lot of people still sympathized with Jaunita.

A common proclamation was that the cops should have shown the woman a bit more dignity. Police have sensitivity training, so why didn’t they know to use it in this particular circumstance?

 Social Media


With social media stirred up more on the incident than ever, people took to social media platforms like Reddit and Facebook to give their two cents. From people defending the elderly woman to people defending the cops.

Reddit particularly had a lot of people whipped into a frenzy, and their pure uncensored opinions were as follows.

Heated Debate


“It’s not ok to not pay your rent at 94 because you really can’t, but it is totally fine to avoid billions and billions of taxes. Welcome to humanity,” one dismayed Reddit user wrote, sparking a heated debate on the platform. 

Some agreed with the opinion, but others were less sympathetic to Juanita’s situation when they discovered another side to the story.

 Another Side To The Story


One Redditor seemed to have more insight into the story than others. He replied to the other Redditor’s post with a remark that swayed the opinion of others that were on the fence about the entire incident.

What this Redditor said sparked controversy all over again when they gave an important detail. One that people hadn’t considered before.


Lake County Police

“…except this woman could (pay rent) but just refused to despite it. Then she was evicted and refused to cooperate in any capacity when the police arrived,” another Reddit user argued. 

“Then, she rejected multiple offers to help her keep a roof over her head. I mean what exactly is it you suggest should have been done? 

What Were They Supposed To Do?


“She gets to live rent-free wherever she likes, and the actual owners of the place just have to suck it up until she dies because she’s old?” the user continued. “There’s plenty of issues in the world that highlight the problems you talk about. This old bat is not one of them.” 

However, Franklin House is actually public housing, not a business. Then, the first user replied with a point about the issue with our capitalist society that got everyone thinking.

The Problem With Capitalism

The Independent

“I think Jeff Bezos, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Apple, and the list goes on can pay their taxes, and they can pay much more than they’re used to without even knowing they’re paying it, but yet they don’t. And they don’t end up in prison, do they?” the Redditor retorted. 

Many thought that Juanita’s story had only highlighted the problems in modern society – where the ultra-rich are treated like royalty and the poor and vulnerable are treated like second-rate citizens. 

Land Of The Free

Pubic Housing

“America, land of the free, as long as you are rich enough to pay for it,” another user wrote in agreement. “This is honestly why I hope I don’t live past like 80.”

The debate raged on and the topic of discussion moved away from the ultra-rich and on to law enforcement. Most couldn’t get over how the officers had handled the 5-foot-tall, 100 pound elderly woman.

Abuse Of Power?

Action News Jax

“Anyone need any more evidence that most police officers in this country are sociopaths and sadists? They put this extraordinarily elderly and helpless woman in handcuffs…because they enjoy causing pain,” one Redditor wrote. 

But, while people pondered the problems in society and raged on Reddit, Juanita’s community decided to do something constructive to help her. 

The Community Comes Together

Google Reviews

The disturbing footage of Juanita being arrested and the photos of her massive purple bruises went insanely viral and got attention worldwide. Soon, Franklin House’s page was inundated with bad reviews.

Several people came forward to offer her donations, others offered to pay her $500 bond, and a few setup GoFundMe accounts to raise money for her so she could pay for a permanent residence. 

Fiercely Independent

Madly Odd

Nicole Lett, who helped Juanita get out of jail and find lodgings in the motel, said that Juanita had always been “fiercely independent.” 

“I just couldn’t let her stay in jail any longer,” Nicole said. “She’s 94, and she’s still feisty as ever… She doesn’t want people’s help, and she wants to be on her own. But unfortunately, she needs the help right now because she doesn’t have anything anymore.”

Social Workers Try To Help

Public Domain

After numerous people tried to help Juanita out, word spread about her struggles to LifeStream. The organization was willing to look into her case. Afterward, they decided that they would try to help her in any way they could.

But there was something that they hadn’t considered when they decided to help her. She had a history of not wanting help, so would things go as expected?

Will She Accept Help?

The Independent

“They’re going to Baker Act me!” exclaimed Juanita as she swatted her hands at her exasperated caseworkers while being interviewed. Erica Wilson is a homeless specialist for LifeStream who is trying to help Juanita.

She said: “Given her age and her stress, we have decided to step back for a couple of days. Hopefully, she will accept when the time is right.”

The Florida Mental Health Act

Public Domain

The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, known by people like Jaunita as The Baker Act, encourages family members to be admitted into a psychiatric ward if they need care. 

This is Juanita’s worst nightmare. But the elderly woman doesn’t understand exactly what The Baker Act can and can’t enforce on her if her children decide to try it on her.

She Can’t Be Taken Away

Public Domain

The fiercely independent woman would take comfort in the fact that the Florida Mental Health Act cannot force her to go to a psychiatric ward. The act states that whoever the concerned party needs to understand exactly where they would be going.

Furthermore, the individual on the act is attempted on cannot be taken involuntarily. This means that Jaunita can say no and keep trying to make her way all on her own. But maybe one day, she’ll finally accept some help from someone.

In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.