Video that was released by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office appears to show a deputy repeatedly strike a 17-year-old during the inmate intake process at the county jail.
Due to the incident, the deputy has been placed on administrative leave.
In the recording, deputy Neil Pizzo can be seen having a conversation with Terrance Reed III, who had just been brought into the jail on a drug possession charge. Words between Pizzo and Reed become heated. Then, the deputy moves toward Reed and the altercation turns physical.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson, who is a retired JSO officer, says it’s common for some inmates to verbally get under the skin of officers during the jail intake process.
“But you cannot leave your professional demeanor to go physically address that and that’s what appears to have happened here,” Jefferson said.
Reed seems to pull his hands out of his shirt as Pizzo comes toward him. Jefferson said that is a natural reaction for anyone seeing a threatening person come their way.
“He didn’t raise his fist. He didn’t act like he was trying to strike the officer. Based on what I see in the video, it didn’t appear this juvenile was trying to hurt anyone,” Jefferson said.
Pizzo then appears to grab the teen by the throat and appears to choke him, holding him against a wall. Two camera angles capture Reed being brought to the ground where he’s repeatedly struck in what appears to be the back of the head and neck by Pizzo. This is what troubled Jefferson the most after watching both angles and realizing a second deputy had Reed’s legs restrained.
“A person that’s laying on their stomach while you’re on their back has no fight in them as being able to hurt you,” Jefferson said.
Moments after the scuffle began, Reed was taken to a holding cell where it appears he had more words for Pizzo.
Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said he was disappointed that his deputy did not deescalate the situation. He also said when he slowed down the video, it appears his deputy violated sheriff’s office policy.