1. Archive

Man's suit claims false arrest after bank robbery

A Dixie County man spent 19 days in jail in 2002, charged with a Zephyrhills bank robbery that another man eventually confessed to.

Now the 72-year-old is suing each law enforcement agency that he thinks had anything to do with his incarceration: the Zephyrhills Police Department and the sheriff's offices in Pasco, Hillsborough and Dixie counties.

A Sunshine State Federal Savings & Loan in Zephyrhills was robbed Aug. 16, 2002 by a man who handed a teller a note demanding money. Two weeks later, Harmon David Brock of Old Town, near Cross City, was arrested and charged with the robbery.

But those charges eventually were dropped by the State Attorney's Office. Another man confessed and was charged with the crime.

In a suit filed this month in Dixie County Circuit Court, Brock alleges he was falsely arrested and falsely imprisoned, and that he "suffered great shame, mortification and disgrace, loss of dignity and reputation, loss of earnings, and mental anguish."

The suit says Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office deputies noticed Brock resembled an image of the robber on a videotape of the crime.

A warrant was issued, the suit says, and Brock was arrested Aug. 28, 2002 by Zephyrhills police and the Dixie County Sheriff's Office. Then, he spent 10 days in the Dixie County Jail.

The suit said Brock protested his arrest and gave authorities the names and addresses of witnesses who could verify he was somewhere else the day of the robbery.

Brock was taken to the Pasco County jail in Land O'Lakes and spent nine days there, the suit says.

Jail records show Brock was released on his own recognizance and, in January 2003, the State Attorney's Office dropped the charges.

According to Zephyrhills police Capt. Randy Belasic, another man confessed to the bank robbery and was arrested in April.

The suit alleges Brock "was denied his medication and treated with disrespect while protesting with his innocence at all times in both the Dixie County Jail and the Pasco County Jail."

The suit demands a jury trial and is seeking an amount greater than $15,000.

Zephyrhills City Manager Steve Spina said Wednesday that he had looked over the suit briefly and forwarded it to the city attorney.

"It looks to me like a pretty collaborative effort, and I'm sure we acted in good faith," he said. "We'll have to just let it go through the system."