Cops arrest woman for refusing to tell them her name!
Don't these cops have any REAL criminals to hunt down?
Mom plans to sue Tavares for arrest following wet T-shirt at children's park
By Martin E. Comas, Orlando Sentinel
3:25 p.m. EDT, August 5, 2010
TAVARES — When Janet Lovett took her 7-year-old son to the city's Splash Park this spring, she never thought police would slap handcuffs on her and haul her off to the Lake County Jail after her T-shirt and bra became wet.
Lovett was arrested because she refused to give an officer her name after she was told to cover up. She was booked on a misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer without violence. However, the State Attorney's Office declined to file charges.
Last week, the 36-year-old Eustis homemaker informed Tavares that she intends to sue the city for malicious prosecution, false arrest, battery and violation of her civil rights in connection with the flap at Wooton Park.
"She was minding her own business," Winter Park attorney Howard Marks, who is representing Lovett, said Thursday. "She was taking her child to a splash park and then winds up five hours in jail. That's a bad day."
But Lovett brought on the arrest herself, according to Tavares police Chief Stoney Lubins.
"She was not arrested for anything she was wearing," Lubins said. "The officer just wanted her name and she refused…And she was warned she could be arrested."
On April 24, Lovett kicked off her shoes and joined her son at the Splash Park, which had just recently opened for its first full season. But after her T-shirt and bra became soaked, parents complained to a park employee that the see-through shirt was "offensive," according to a police report.
It's not clear why authorities were called, but park employees told police it was the third time in recent days that Lovett was asked to leave the park because of a wet T-shirt. The $500,000 attraction, which opened in August 2009, features water spouting from pretend animals, cattails and a "seaplane."
Lovett referred questions to Marks, who said his client wrapped a towel around herself and was approached by a Tavares police officer who asked her for her name as she was walking out of the park on the north shore of Lake Dora.
Cpl. Tammy Bozadjian said she needed Lovett's name to put into a city database.
"The defendant [Lovett] became upset and would not provide her information," Bozadjian wrote in the incident report. "I again explained that the information was only for the data base. She again refused to provide the information, stating that she needed to speak with her husband first. I then informed the defendant that if she refused to provide her information that she would be placed under arrest."
Lovett then gave only her first name, questioning the officer why she should also give her last name, too.
Bozadjian tried to place handcuffs on the mother, but she pulled back, according to the report. The officer folded her left arm behind her back.
"I was then able to successfully place her in handcuffs," Bozadjian wrote.
Meanwhile, her husband, Jeff Lovett, watched his wife being arrested while standing outside the park fence.
Marks said police had no legal justification for demanding that Lovett tell the officer her name because there was no evidence she committed or was about to commit a crime.
"What kind of database would they put her in? A database for wet T-shirt wearers?" Marks asked. "She wasn't there to cause trouble…They're either absolutely incompetent or they don't know the law."
Lubins said police asked for her name because they were called out to the park and told that she had been warned before about her attire.
"We would be remiss if we didn't take down her name," he said.
Marks, however, said he wondered if police wanted Lovett's name because they suspected the Peruvian native may be an illegal immigrant. Lovett, a nursing student, has lived in the United States for 15 years and is an American citizen, the attorney said.
According to the letter sent to Tavares, Lovett also may claim monetary and punitive damages from the city for the amount she spent on legal fees and medical bills for bruises and marks on her arms following her arrest.