TAMPA, FLORIDA – A University of Tampa student was struck by police arresting her after a rap concert Friday, and online video of the incident has led to criticism of the officers.
Nicolete Rae Hitzke, 21, scuffled with officers and security after police said she attempted to leave the Lupe Fiasco concert at Plant Park through a barricaded gate.
A YouTube video of her arrest, taken by a bystander, shows Hitzke face down on the ground as officers attempt to handcuff her arms behind her back. During the struggle, police order her to comply, and an officer appears to strike her three times.
The concert area was fenced, and the gate was barricaded to keep concertgoers away from the artists and equipment, officials said. According to Tampa police, Hitzke started an argument over where to exit the concert and refused to follow directions.
Hitzke was yelling and cursing, struck an usher in the mouth and attempted to hit other ushers, police said. Hitzke ran from security, police said, which led officers to use physical force that some observers found unnecessary.
“The violence that Tampa security had on her, pushing her onto the ground and beating her into the ribs that you could see on the YouTube video, was just way too excessive,” said Josh Napier, editor of the Minaret campus newspaper.
Hitzke, who is 5 feet 3 inches tall and 115 pounds, was arrested at 11:10 p.m., according to jail records. The video of the incident had more than 4,700 views on YouTube as of Wednesday night.
On the video, Hitzke tells officers, “I didn’t do anything,” and a bystander is heard saying, “No reason to punch her.”
Senior Nate Walters said he saw the incident from a distance but took a closer look online.
“Once she was down to the ground and pinned, the officers proceeded to punch her and I think even she had a kick in there or something as well,” Walters said. “I think it was very excessive for the alleged crime.”
Hitzke, of 4102 W. Carmen St., Tampa, was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence, both misdemeanors. She was taken to the Hillsborough County Jail and released on $750 bail the next morning, according to jail records.
Hitzke did not answer the door at her home this week for a reporter seeking comment.
Lupe Fiasco, a 2008 Grammy winner, was the headline act for UT’s annual Party in the Park event. Only UT students and employees could attend.
According to a pre-event letter from the school to area businesses, UT would provide security and the expected crowd would be about 2,000.