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Woman Says She Was|Victim of Cop’s Obsession

(CN) - A police officer infatuated with a young woman he met during a landlord-tenant dispute tried to have her committed after she rejected his attentions, a lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade County claims.

In her complaint, Kirenia Cardidad Figuera says she met Officer Joshua Zacharias when he responded to a domestic dispute call at her mother's apartment. Figuera says at the time, both she and her sister lived with her mother, but neither contributed money toward the living expenses in the home.

During the investigation that followed, Zacharias allegedly told Figuera that because she'd lived in her mother's home for more than 24 hours, the conflict amounted to a landlord-tenants dispute, and that she'd have to find somewhere else to live.

Figuera says she and her sister gladly accepted Zacharias offer to help them move to a new apartment the next day, but from virtually that time on, her interaction with the officer took a disturbing turn.

At the time, the young woman says, she had only recently broken up with her boyfriend of six years, and they were still trying to work out their issues. While Zacharias was still at the apartment, Figuera invited her ex over to see the new place.

By then, she says, Zacharias had overstayed his welcome, and when her ex-boyfriend did indeed arrive at the apartment, "Zacharias began yelling uncontrollably at him." Moments later, Zacharias allegedly escalated the confrontation by pulling a gun on the ex-boyfriend and chasing him from the premises.

Figuera describes herself as startled by the alleged incident, and says she was even more surprised when Zacharias went back to his police cruiser, gathered some belongings, and announced he wanted to stay the night.

Figuera says she responded by telling Zacharias she wasn't interested in having a relationship with him.

But this, she claims, only inspired him to become more aggressive in his pursuit of her. Initially, Zacharias called her several times a day, and after she stopped answering his calls, he began to call her sister, asking about Figuera's activities, the complaint says.

As time went on, the lawsuit says, Zacharias became more involved in the family's life -- even paying the mother's utility bill. But Figuera says just wasn't interested in the officer and continued to try to make that clear to him.

"At one point, Defendant Zacharias sent a Facebook message to Plaintiff's sister referring to her (Plaintiff's sister) as his sister in law, discussing how heartbroken he felt over Plaintiff's refusal to engage in a romantic relationship," the complaint says. "Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Zacharias's verbiage, referring to Plaintiff as his ex-wife after only knowing her for a few days, exemplifies the obsessive infatuation Defendant Zacharias had with Plaintiff."

Figuera says the situation came to a head on December 13, 2011, when she stopped at a Hess gas station near her apartment to use the ATM machine. While inside, she says, Zacharias showed up in his police cruiser and waited for her to come out.

He then pulled her over as she left the gas station and "began a verbal altercation with Plaintiff over the fact that he would be a better man" for her.

Figuera says the officer arrested her for "allegedly being irrational," issued her citations for minor violations, and then had her transferred to a local mental hospital.

"Defendant Zacharias told Plaintiff: that's what you get bitch," the complaint says.

Figuera says the staff at the Citris Mental Institute found no basis for her institutionalization, and released her within hours of her arrival.

She says she next encountered Zacharias in traffic court, where she was found guilty of offenses ranging from having unlawfully tinted windows to blocking the right-of-way. Figuera says the court's decision was based on a series of false statements made by the officer, and that the court's findings were later thrown out with Zacharias Facebook messages and other alleged statements were brought to the attention of the state attorney's office.

Figuera seeks unspecified compensatory damages on claims of negligence, negligent retention, malicious prosecution, false arrest and imprisonment, and civil rights violations.

She is represented by Bram Gechtman of Miami, Fla.

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