Peter Palazzotto, 46, and Joshua Hiatt, 21, were drinking earlier this morning at the property at 3 Hernandez Avenue in the Hammock. At about 2:45, Hiatt went to the nearby Circle K to buy more alcohol. When he returned, he told Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies, Palazzotto allegedly beat him, hog-tied him, prevented him from leaving the residence, stole his iPhone and his wallet, then threw him out. He claims others may also have had a hand in beating him.
Palazzotto told deputies Hiatt had been at his house earlier but was “being belligerent and out of control,” according to Palazzotto’s arrest report, but that “he let him go and that was it.” Palazzotto would not speak further with deputies without an attorney present, but two women who agreed to speak with law enforcement, corroborated Hiatt’s account. It isn’t clear if both women were in the house at the time of the incident: Hiatt said he’d been drinking with Palazzotto and one woman–and at one point accused one of the women of beating him, too. She was not arrested.
Hiatt had a minor laceration to the corner of his left eye, a lump on the back of the head, red marks and scratches around his neck and a small laceration to his right wrist when deputies spoke to him at about 3:30 this morning, at the Circle K. His clothes were in disarray and his shorts were on inside out, according to the sheriff’s report. The way Hiatt described it to deputies, he’d returned to the house when Palazzotto questioned him about “possibly stealing an unknown amount of cannabis from his stash.” Hiatt said he’d not taken anything. Palazzotto then allegedly stripped Hiatt in an attempt to find the pot. Hiatt tried to resist but Palazzotto overpowered him. There was no pot. Hiatt put his clothes back on and tried to leave. Palazzotto “grabbed a gray surfboard leash and forcibly put [Hiatt] in a ‘hog tie’ position on the kitchen floor,” the report states. Palazzotto then “wrapped the gray surfboard leash around his neck, constricting his airflow and placed his hands behind his back,” according to Hiatt. Palazzotto then allegedly tied the surfboard leash that was wrapped around Hiatt’s neck to his hands and feet, immobilizing Hiatt, then striking him repeatedly as people around him laughed and made jeering comments about him.
Hiatt told deputies a 45-year-old man he referred to as “Jay Rock” filmed the incident on his cell phone. Deputies spoke to the man and asked to see the video. The man refused. The phone was seized into evidence. Detectives are seeking a search warrant to be able to look at the alleged footage.
Hiatt said the unknown woman at the scene also took part in what he described as “curb stomping.” After the beating, Palazzotto released him but allegedly grabbed his blue iPhone X and his brown wallet containing $300 in cash before telling him to get out. He fled on foot back to the Circle K, where a clerk called 911. (“While interviewing [Hiatt].” the report notes, “he was intoxicated and visibly shaken up,” and “unable to provide certain details of the incident.”
As other deputies were attempting to make contact with Palazzotto on Hernandez Avenue, Palazzotto yelled through the front door, “all of this over a phone!” then threw a blue iPhone out the door. An individual riding his bike in the area located an empty brown wallet and turned it over to deputies. It was Hiatt’s wallet.
Palazzotto was arrested, charged with Kidnapping, Battery by Strangulation, Grand Theft, and Robbery, all felonies, and booked at the county jail without bond pending his first appearance before a judge. Six years ago he’d faced a felony charge of battery on a law enforcement or security officer. The charge was reduced to misdemeanor battery, then dropped.