A former beauty pageant queen who faced charges for allegedly beating a DJ with a bat at a party is suing the city of Hialeah, the police department and the cop who arrested her during the 2016 incident, alleging that her civil rights were violated and her reputation was harmed.
Vanessa Barcelo, a business owner and a former Miss Miami Lakes and Hialeah pageant queen, was arrested in December 2016 when police say she attacked a man with a baseball bat, leaving him bruised and bloody, at her own holiday party. Her mugshot – which showed her wearing a holiday sweater – went viral.
“After all my hard work of trying to build something up, trying to be a role model for others, and now I’m still labeled as a girl who hit somebody with a bat,” Barcelo said in an interview Friday.
The alleged victim, David Duperon, told NBC 6 in an interview in 2017 that the attack left him with an eye swollen shut and a bruised reputation. Barcelo accused him of trying to undress her drunk cousin at a party.
"Unlike her, I have proof of this stuff. I'm the one with the scar on my face. I'm the one with $200,000 in medical bills," Duperon said. "I'm the one who spent Christmas and my birthday in the hospital.”
Barcelo’s misdemeanor battery charge was later dropped, with a judge citing Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law.” However, Barcelo says the damage is done. Her lawyer says it has been two years and Barcelo still appears in videos online that talk about the bat attack.
“It’s wild because that just never happened, and that’s the basis of the lawsuit,” said Barcelo’s lawyer, James DeMiles.
Barcelo, who was a Miss Florida USA 2017 contestant, was hosting a party at her home to promote her baking business when the alleged attack happened. She allegedly beat Duperon with a baseball bat while other guests punched and knocked him to the ground, police said.