NewsLocal News


Court documents reveal details of hostage situation at Valencia Drive apartments

Posted at 12:01 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 12:51:19-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Newly released court documents describe the hostage situation inside a Valencia Drive apartment before police surrounded it and ultimately shot and killed a fleeing suspect.

Valerie Hatton is facing murder, armed robbery, burglary and kidnapping charges in connection with a hostage situation that unfolded after the suspect fled a traffic stop. He was shot by police after jumping out of a second-story window and pointing a gun at an officer trying to stop him, according to the court documents.

Hatton had her first court appearance before a judge over the weekend.

According to the court documents, officers discovered Hatton and her juvenile-aged daughter inside the female victim's apartment on Valencia Drive. They were determined to be the passengers of the vehicle which struck an officer. Responding officers were informed Hatton was a suspect and directly involved in the incident.

The female resident explained she and the male resident returned to the apartment complex and saw a car park in their assigned parking space, then reverse into a different space.

The female later identified as Hatton exited the driver's side of the vehicle and approached them, demanding help. The two allowed Hatton into their apartment where she continued to request help.

During this period, a male unknown to the residents entered the apartment with a young child. Hatton and the suspect said the police were looking for them and were outside.

At that point, the suspect said he "ran over a police officer" and had an unregistered firearm.

The male resident explained they did not want to be involved, which outside the residence, the male suspect saw an unsecured handgun and took it. The male resident, the owner of the gun, knew the inserted magazine was loaded with ammunition.

According to the report, the suspect then chambered a round and threatened the two victims. The man said he needed to escape from the police and ordered both victims to stay in the hallway.

TPD said Hatton demanded the victims surrender their Apple smartwatches and saw the female victim attempt to hide one of her cell phones. Hatton took the female victim's phone and reportedly talked about calling her grandmother or a Lyft in order to escape.

Investigators also learned Hatton was overheard speaking with the male suspect, asking what they should do with the two victims.

The police report says the male suspect eventually secured the handgun on the right side of his pants with the grip exposed and the male victim "took the opportunity to physically attack him.

He and the suspect fought, which allowed the female victim the opportunity to escape and scream for help, which was captured on officer body cameras.

Hatton was detained by officers outside the apartment and she and her daughter were taken to the Tallahassee Police Department where Hatton's interview was recorded.

Investigators learned Hatton has previously been advised of her rights and responded as if she did not understand them. Upon being read her rights again Hatton acknowledged she understood and asked about the process to obtain a lawyer.

According to TPD, Hatton told officers she had a lawyer but was willing to talk with investigators without the lawyer present, waiving her rights.

As stated in the report, Hatton said she drove to Florida with her cousin, child and a man she knew only by a nickname, "Robert."

TPD said Hatton stated she had rented the vehicle driven by Robert, confirmed she was with him when he resisted officers and fled and knew Robert may have injured an officer when he fled. Hatton claimed to be a victim in the matter and did not consent to Robert's actions, reportedly.

Hatton reportedly denied she took the female resident's cell phone and attempted to steal both victim's Apple watches, saying the misinterpretations were due to the stress of the situation.

Hatton's daughter was transported to the Child Protection Team for a forensic interview regarding the investigation.

Investigators said the daughter confirmed she witnessed a police officer get "run over" and contradicted Hatton's account and referred to Robert as her "stepdad."

TPD said the daughter was given two cell phones to "hold" by Robert that were later dropped inside the apartment. The daughter said Robert also told Hatton "don't touch anything" inside the apartment.

Reportedly, the daughter witnessed Robert repeatedly punch the male victim in his face and the two men fight over a firearm. Hatton's daughter also witnessed Robert "jump out the window," according to the report.

After Robert jumped from the window he was met by an officer who gave him verbal commands, the police report states. TPD said Robert disregarded the commands and pointed his gun toward the officer, who shot at Robert, disarming him and resulting in his death.

TPD says during the interview, Hatton's daughter asked the interviewer not to give her statement to law enforcement. When asked why the daughter said, "mom doesn't want the police knowing her business."

Video and audio recordings recovered from the female victim's cell phone reveals Hatton speaking (presumably on the phone), relaying she was in Tallahassee and "the police is everywhere." Reportedly, Hatton was also revealed pleading with the female resident for help saying her daughter "can't see me like this."

According to the report, Hatton is recorded saying she was afraid if she left the apartment the police would "shoot."

TPD says a second cell phone was also recovered with an audio recording that "was reasonably consistent with the accounts provided by the victims."

TPD's report states Robert's actions constituted false imprisonment, armed robbery and assault of the two victims. Hatton "acted in principal and assisted" Robert in the crimes he committed inside the apartment.

Hatton's actions included attempting to help conceal Robert from law enforcement and deprive the female resident of her cell phone, according to the report.

TPD says for those reasons, Hatton's actions constitute the offense of felony murder as Robert was killed during the "continuation of the offenses."

The probable cause was approved by State Attorney Jack Campbell.