The wife of New York Yankees slugger Cecil Fielder has hired a lawyer to sue Brevard County sheriff's deputies who she says assaulted her during an arrest.
Stacey Lynn Fielder was leaving a fund-raiser at Space Coast Stadium near Melbourne on Feb. 9 when she stopped on an access road to ask about a traffic accident involving a relative of her husband.
Deputies refused to let her near the accident, which led to an argument.
"Do you know who I am?" sheriff's reports quote her as saying. "What are you going to do, arrest me?"
In fact, they did.
Fielder, 31, was charged with resisting arrest without violence. She was taken to a detention center, where she was held briefly before she was released without bail.
"Because my family is black and affluent," Cecil Fielder said, "I feel that the local Police Department has unduly harassed us, and it's time for us to put a stop to it."
Willie E. Gary, the Stuart lawyer hired to represent Stacey Fielder on the criminal charge and sue the county, said the deputies overreacted. The lawsuit, to be announced at a news conference today, will seek $25-million in damages for false arrest, unlawful detainment and battery.
The Fielders had spent the evening at a fund-raiser for the Brevard Zoo. Afterward, hundreds of spectators left the stadium, and traffic was congested along two-laned Lake Andrews Drive.
Jesse Semien, 23, was driving a sport-utility vehicle in the wrong lane to pass cars about 10:30 p.m., reports said. When a sheriff's cruiser headed in his direction, he swerved into the proper lane, crashing into a stopped car.
Stacey Fielder then drove up and stopped. Deputies told her to wait until they talked to the drivers, reports said.
Fielder began yelling, reports said. "I just did a benefit for you people. That is my vehicle and I'm going up to it," the reports quoted her as saying.
Gary said Fielder wanted to check on her 10-year-old son, who was in the car with Semien. But sheriff's officials said reports do not show that a child was in the vehicle.
The next day, sheriff's spokeswoman Joan Heller said, detectives questioned witnesses, who confirmed most of the deputies' reports. There was no physical altercation between the deputies and Fielder, she said.
"They may have put their hand on her arm to take her to jail, but she did not physically resist. She did not strike any of the officers," Heller said.
She said sheriff's officials were unaware of a forthcoming lawsuit.
Gary has a reputation for taking high-profile cases to correct perceived injustices. The family of TyRon Lewis, whose shooting death by a white police officer led to racial unrest in St. Petersburg, hired him to file a wrongful death suit.