Woman who won OPD settlement said police dragged case for years



ORLANDO, Fla. - Eyewitness News just spoke with the woman who won a settlement involving excessive force by two Orlando police officers.

Ana Maria Hazleton said OPD deliberately dragged the case out for years.

Hazleton said she had 60 guests at her home on Mother's Day 2007 to celebrate her sons, her financial success and a birthday.

She said everything was good until a neighbor called 911 about a fight in the yard which was really just horseplay involving her son and his cousin.

Once OPD showed up, she said the party was definitely over.

Six years later, Hazleton still has a bald spot where three shots of pepper spray infected her cosmetic surgery cuts.

"They had me in handcuffs. I was face down on the bed. They pulled me up by my hair, pepper-sprayed me and set me down on my bed," Hazleton said.

She said she dyed her hair blond to hide the physical scars, but said other scars aren't so easy to hide.

"I was so taken down, my whole personality was destroyed," Hazleton said.

She said police were told everything was OK, it was just a misunderstanding, but they were determined to make arrests.

Her charges for battery on an officer and resisting arrest were dropped the day her trial was supposed to start.

Last month after city-hired attorneys strung out her excessive force case for years, they admitted on the first day of trial that officers were wrong.

A federal jury awarded her $88,000.

One of the officers involved, Brandon Loverde, gave up his law enforcement certification after admitting he assaulted a nursing new mother.

Another officer, Fernando Trinidad, has already been sued for pushing a woman down steps at a nightclub but is still working at OPD.

Hazleton said her message to Orlando Police Chief Paul Rooney is, "Make the police represent safety. Make the police represent justice."

Her attorney said he'll be billing city taxpayers for at least $200,000. The city has paid its attorney almost $100,000 so far.

She said she's waiting for her settlement money to put her life back together and plans to start a foundation to help others who have been mistreated by police.