• Thu. Oct 29th, 2020

Florida deputy on leave after physical altercation with teen inmate caught on video

A Florida deputy is on administrative leave after a physical altercation with a 17-year-old Black inmate sent the teen to the hospital.

Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Neil Pizzo was processing an inmate who had turned himself in last week while another inmate was having his photo taken for intake, according to an incident report from the office.

That inmate, whom NBC News is not identifying because he is a minor, had his hands in his clothing, according to the report and video of the incident. The teen was being held on concealed weapons charges, according to an incident report from the sheriff’s office.

The teen “was asked to remove his hands from the inside of his shorts,” Pizzo wrote in the incident report. “He stated ‘f— you I’m cold.’ As I walked over to him he complied with my verbal commands, but was just stating ‘I’ll kill you cracker if we on the streets, I’ll blow your f—ing head off, you ain’t a real cop.'”

The inmate continued to curse, according to Pizzo’s incident report, and refused to take his hands out of his clothes, but when Pizzo approached him, he quickly jumped off the table he was sitting on and popped his arms through his sleeves, video shows.

A Sarasota deputy has been put on leave after a physical altercation with a teenage inmate.Sarasota County’s sheriff office

The inmate “quickly pulled his arms out of his shirt and said ‘I’ll f— you up,'” Pizzo wrote. “I saw the the look in his eyes and the stance that he immediately went into. Mr. Reed had his fists clenched and it was eminent I was going to be attacked and struck.”

Video shows Pizzo immediately pinned the teen to the wall before dragging him to the floor and straddling him there.

Pizzo said the inmate refused commands to put his hands behind his back so he struck him multiple times with his open hand “to avoid harming him.” Pizzo was then able to handcuff the teen.

The Sarasota County Sheriff did not immediately return NBC News’ request for comment, but Sheriff Tom Knight told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that he was “disappointed” with what he saw in the video.

“We are responsible for de-escalating the situation,” Knight said. “Was the de-escalation practice put into play there? … If a deputy is trying to de-escalate and you go hands on and you have a confrontation, what did he attempt to do prior to the physical confrontation to prevent it from happening?”

A nurse was called to evaluate the teen, but he refused the check. He was sent to a nearby hospital for treatment of an abrasion on his head.

Another deputy who was in the room and had also instructed the inmate to take his hands out of his clothes gave the same account of the altercation. The deputy added that the inmate had tried to grab Pizzo’s neck. The video shows the inmate placing his hands on Pizzo’s neck after he is pinned up against the wall.

Pizzo was placed on administrative leave last week, according to a Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office spokesman. The deputy has been with the office for 18 years, according to records.