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Jennifer Florida, candidate for St. Louis alderman, was charged with assault in Creve Coeur.
Former St. Louis city Alderwoman Jennifer Florida is facing an assault charge in Creve Coeur.
Florida, who is campaigning to reclaim her old seat in south city's 15th Ward,
attacked a 29-year-old man on May 10, 2016 during a custody dispute over her grandson, authorities say.
"Reportedly, the female struck the male several times while she unsuccessfully tried to get past him and take control of the baby," Creve Coeur police said in a statement.
Witnesses to the incident told police Florida, 55, was the primary aggressor. She was issued a court summons for third-degree assault under the city's code. The charge is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and three months in jail.
"I'm falsely accused by a much younger, bigger man who has preyed upon the baby's mother and my grandson," Florida tells the Riverfront Times
She says the 29-year-old, who neither she nor police named, "almost pushed me down stairs."
The baby is the child of Florida's son and his ex-girlfriend. Florida declined to discuss the incident in detail, but she described the 29-year-old as an "interloper" who "fixated" on her grandson's mother. The child has lived with Florida and her son for two years. Florida says the mother has had some problems, which she declined to specify, and is currently in the hospital.
"It's already very complicated," says Florida, who describes the situation as a "close, personal, family matter."
Attorney Bret Rich, who is representing Florida, says the incident happened during a custody exchange. The child had been visiting the mother, and both sides were meeting at the office of a law firm in Creve Coeur for the handoff to the father and Florida.
"The man who made this allegation is considerably younger than she is. He's considerably larger than she is," Rich says. "I don't even really understand what his purpose for being there was. He's not one of the parents. He's not a legal guardian. He basically was the boyfriend at the time of the mother of the child."
Rich says he is hopeful they will be able to sort out the situation with prosecutors. "I don't see anything to indicate my client assaulted anybody."
Aside from the legal ramifications, the timing of the case is not ideal for Florida. She is scheduled to appear in Creve Coeur Municipal Court on March 1 — just six days before she faces incumbent Alderwoman Megan Ellyia Green in the Democratic primary.
The race was already expected to be competitive. Florida represented the 15th Ward, which covers much of Tower Grove South and a bit of Tower Grove East, for nearly fourteen years. She left the post in 2014 because the mayor appointed her Recorder of Deeds
to succeed Sharon Carpenter, who was ousted amid a nepotism scandal.
Florida ran later that year as an independent to keep the job, but Carpenter defeated her in a landslide
She is now trying to go back to her roots in 15th Ward, running on a law-and-order platform against the progressive Green. Florida has promised to push for more cops, and the St. Louis Police Officers Association has endorsed her.
She has said neighborhood safety in the ward is her top priority.
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