A Florida landlord is accused of trapping his residents inside their garage apartment, refusing to let them out even after deputies arrived.
Lawrence Edward Cohen, 66, allegedly propped a chair under the doorknob between his house and the garage on Tuesday afternoon, according to the charging affidavit out of Volusia County. Deputies said they had been to the address “numerous times” before.
“Due to prior interactions at the residence, Deputies were aware that the only way out of the garage was through the interior door,” the affidavit said. That’s because the garage door was broken, so the only way the tenants could leave was through Cohen’s house.
According to charging documents, the three victims said they tried to leave, but the landlord blocked their way out, threatening to kill or “stick” them if they stepped into the home. Deputies had noted a “large knife” in the kitchen. The residents said they contacted authorities after being trapped there for two hours; a male victim is the one who made the call, deputies said.
“He advised that the only way out was through the main house, and Cohen told them that if they entered the house he would kill them,” deputies said.
Authorities said deputies had been to the home earlier that day, and Cohen claimed to have a firearm. Deputies later determined it was a BB gun.
As for the garage incident, deputies said they reached Cohen through the front door.
“He stated that he wanted his tenants out,” authorities wrote.
According to deputies, they offered to walk the people out, but Cohen refused to let them inside. At the same time, he refused to let the tenants out.
The three people, who remained stuck inside, called out to deputies, “Yeah, we’re stuck in here,” documents stated.
Authorities said they conveyed to Cohen that there were people inside asking for law enforcement help, according to the affidavit. As described in documents, deputies gave Cohen an ultimatum: either he would let them inside to give help or they would force their way in. They could not get him to comply, so a deputy kicked open the front door because of the people calling for help, the affidavit stated.
A deputy told Cohen to put his hands behind his back, according to the document.
“Cohen exclaimed ‘No!’ and raised his fists in front of him in an aggressive manner,” the affidavit said. “Deputy Maletto attempted to place Cohen under arrest and he began tensing his body and pulling way from Deputy Maletto still refusing to place his hands behind his back despite numerous orders to do so. In an attempt to gain control of Cohen and take him to the ground, Deputy Maletto delivered a knee strike to Cohen’s abdomen. Cohen continued to actively resist.”
The deputy pulled out his Taser, threatened to deploy it on Cohen, and then did so when Cohen continued to resist, documents said.
Cohen allegedly kept resisting after that.
“Cohen fell to the floor and continued resisting and refusing to place his hands behind his back despite continued loud verbal commands,” deputies wrote. “Deputy Maletto warned Cohen again that he would be tased again if he continued resisting. Cohen continued to resist, and Deputy Maletto delivered an additional, approximately one second long drive stun. Cohen continued to resist, and Deputy Lowrey delivered several closed hand strikes to Cohen’s face. After a short struggle, Deputies successfully secured Cohen in handcuffs. Cohen was evaluated by Orange City Fire Department personnel and cleared.”
Cohen faces three counts of false imprisonment and one count of resisting an officer without violence, records show. His arraignment is scheduled to take place Jan. 26.
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