St. Petersburg faces lawsuit after woman claims officer beat her inside her own home

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The light beige house at 4042 32nd Avenue North in St. Petersburg was a dream come true for Yvonne Walsh and Kevin Roenfeldt in 2009.

The couple spent all night moving in, they say, finally falling asleep early on August 22, Walsh in a recliner, Roenfeldt in the bedroom.

At some point before 6am, Walsh woke up to police officers in her living room.

"I opened up my eyes and I saw a big white light and a gun," she remembers.

Police thought they were responding to a burglary call after a neighbor said he saw Walsh trying to break in with a crowbar. Walsh denies that ever happened, and though police saw a broken screen door, she says they'd removed it because it wouldn't work.

When officers demanded proof of a lease agreement, Walsh says she told them they left it at their old home, instead pointing to boxes and a moving truck outside, as well as a welcome note from their new landlord on the kitchen counter.

"It's something I'll never forget," Roenfeldt said. "I have nightmares still of it.  It was like watching the worst beating you could ever see."

That's because of what happened next. Walsh admits, she refused to put her hands behind her back, shouting her innocence when police tried to handcuff her.

"That's when he took my head and started bashing it into the floor until I went unconscious," she says. "At no point did they ever want to hear that I did belong there."

St. Petersburg Police do not comment on pending litigation, but an internal review of the incident claims the officers acted appropriately given the information they had at the time, especially in light of a string of burglaries in the neighborhood.

Neither officer has a history of any abusive or aggressive behavior.

Still, Roenfeldt and Walsh can't believe their repeated attempts to explain the situation ended in a beating inside their own home.

"Really hard to explain how they can attempt to justify the police officers' actions," explained attorney Michael Babboni. "It should've ended there with an apology. Instead it resulted in a brutal and vicious beating."

According to Walsh, the medical treatment for that night continues. She's still waiting for surgery, claiming she's already paid at least $25,000.

The couple moved out of the house soon after.

"The memories. It's like there was a ghost of it," Walsh explained. "Like there was a ghost of it in there, all the time, every time I'd walk through the front door. You just remember those things."

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