Drug addict advocate arrested for assaulting police officer

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A woman who is trying to fight the opioid epidemic in the Mid-South was accused of attacking law enforcement officers.

Rebecca Farruggia, 53, is the president of Hearts for Hope and Healing--an organization she started after her daughter flatlined from a heroin overdose.

Investigators said Farruggia hit a security guard at Snowden Grove Amphitheater on Oct. 28. Officers who detained her said she was intoxicated and verbally abusive.

During her arrest, she kicked and punched at the officers. She continued yelling at the officers as she was booked into jail. She even kicked one of the officers several times during the booking process.

Farruggia spoke with WMC Action News 5 after her Saturday arrest charged with two felonies--crimes she says didn't happen as depicted in the police report.

She says she didn't have any alcohol that day. The issue started when Farruggia tried to go backstage and police did not let her despite having credentials.

"We brushed when he kind of bowed up at me, I guess that's the word for it, you know, he stuck his chest out and bowed up and was like, 'no, you are not coming back,'" she said.

WMC5 learned audio from inside Southaven's booking area will be used as evidence to back the officer's story, but Farruggia says it will back her story too, claiming the officers were verbally abusive toward her.

"Soon as they got me to the police station, I was shackled. I couldn't move. I mean there were two men holding me from the car. I mean they put me in a cage and locked me in there," she said.

Farruggia is fighting these criminal charges, and plans to hire a civil attorney.

"I know what happened that night. There are other witnesses that know what happened, and that's just not OK," she said.

She says there are many witnesses to back up her account of the story.

Farruggia was charged with public drunkenness, resisting arrest, and simple assault on a public servant. Southaven police said the public drunkenness is based on visual observation and not a field sobriety test.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.