Tea Party Founder's Hidden Arrest

Mug shot of Tea Party leader Danita Kilcullen.
Mug shot of Tea Party leader Danita Kilcullen.
Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office
That organized band of angry, gun-toting, Bible-quoting older white people -- otherwise known as the Tea Party -- has often crossed the bounds of appropriateness as it pushes for its right-wing agenda. 

But kicking a police officer with three-inch stiletto high heels? 

That's what Boca Raton police say Fort Lauderdale Tea Party founder Danita Kilcullen did after a political rally, prompting a felony charge of battery on a police officer and a booking at the Palm Beach County Jail.

Kilcullen was arrested on October 16, two weeks before the midterm elections that saw two of her favorite candidates, Allen West and Rick Scott, ushered into office. Kilcullen said she told other Tea Party leaders of the arrest, but somehow the arrest never made the news until now. 

She is currently preparing to do 20 hours of community service after pleading guilty to trespassing and a lesser charge of misdemeanor resisting arrest. 

She told me this morning that she was fighting "injustice" at the time over the use of a hotel bathroom. 

Details inside. 
On October 16, Kilcullen attended a political event at the Embassy Suites hotel in Boca Raton. It was there that police allege she was intoxicated and disrupted an unspecified private function being held at the hotel. 

Kilcullen -- who once told a crowd of Tea Party supporters that a "revolution" was needed in America or they would "die" -- admitted that she had been drinking wine at the political event and acknowledged it played a role in what happened next. 

Kilcullen riling the Tea Party troops.
Kilcullen riling the Tea Party troops.
The incident that led to her trip to jail boiled down to a simple disagreement, ​Kilcullen said. She and fellow Tea Party founder Jack Gillies were set to leave the political event about 10:30 p.m. when she decided to use the bathroom before the drive back to Fort Lauderdale. Because the private party was being held in that area of the hotel, she was told she would have to use the facilities in the main hotel lobby. 

That wouldn't do. Kilcullen told me that she didn't want to walk and that she was eventually given the OK to use the small bathroom. While inside, she said that some "girls" attending the private function began "raising hell" outside the door.

"When I finished washing my hands and opened the door, a police officer burst in, grabbed my hand, and pulled me out," said Kilkullen. "It hurt; he grabbed me around my watch, and I was bleeding. I was angry." 

Boy was she. According to police, Kilcullen began screaming obscenities at two police officers who were providing security for the private party, including the one who took her out of the bathroom.  

Officer Jason Paul Cohen then got a call on his radio for backup at the hotel. He was advised that "a couple was intoxicated and had interrupted the private function." When Cohen arrived, the hotel manager ordered both Kilcullen and Gillies to leave or they would be arrested for trespassing. 

Gillies and Kilcullen walked outside -- and that's when Kilcullen let loose a tirade on the officers that attracted a crowd. "I have a mouth," she concedes. 

Gillies, left, after an unrelated Tea Party scuffle last April
Gillies, left, after an unrelated Tea Party scuffle last April
​"Before leaving, the female yelled obscenities at Officer Pirro," Cohen wrote in his report. "The exchange brought several several people from inside the hotel. It was apparent that the female yelling obscenities caused there to be many onlookers who had previously been inside." 

At that point, Gillies tried to get Kilcullen to the car, according to Cohen. No luck. 

"Kilcullen emerged from the parking lot and began walking toward Officer Pirro," Cohen wrote in his report. "She again began to yell obscenities and shake her fist at him and the rest of us." 

The hotel manager again told her to leave, and she refused, prompting Cohen to finally arrest her for trespassing. As he placed her in the patrol car, he noticed the black high heels with three-inch stilettos.

"I advised her that I needed to remove the shoes for hers and my safety," Cohen wrote. "I went to remove the shoes when she kicked me twice in the chest. I responded by pushing her farther into the prisoner compartment and using my body weight to prevent her from delivering any more kicks." 

Kilcullen was booked into jail and later bonded out. She has told her fellow Tea Party leaders about the arrest. "I said if you think this is going to give us a black eye, then I am willing to step down," she said. 

They gave her the thumbs-up to continue as leader. Kilcullen, who said she had prayed that her arrest would never be publicized, has yet to begin her community service. But she says she hopes to do it in conjunction with her pastor, the outspoken antigay conservative Rev. O'Neal Dozier of Pompano Beach.  

"I found it to be an absolute injustice," said Kilcullen of the bathroom incident. "My arm was bleeding. I couldn't let it go, so I got in the police officer's face. I guess I'm a Tea Party leader because I don't settle for things like this." 

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