TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Pinellas county Sheriff’s deputy was suspended for 24 work hours after mishandling a weapon while working at the county jail.
According to an inter-office memo sent by Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the deputy faced disciplinary action after failing “to properly handle and retain your issued less-lethal shotgun” while working. As a result, the firearm fell into a secure section of the Echo Recreation Yard while inmates were present.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office report stated the deputy had leaned the ‘less-lethal shotgun against the northern railing of the recreation tower” while sitting in a chair overlooking the yard. The shotgun was placed “within inches of a gap between two railings.”
When the deputy stood up, the report from Gualtieri said the deputy’s leg made contact with the shotgun, causing it to fall through the gap and into the yard. The shotgun “fell through the razor wire and into a fenced-in portion of the recreation yard” where inmates were there.
While the deputy ordered the inmates to avoid the area the shotgun had fallen and “summoned another deputy” to meet at the recreation yard, the deputy did not request an emergency response, or tell anyone that a less-lethal shotgun had fallen into the yard.
Other deputies were able to retrieve the weapon, according to the sheriff’s office.
During an investigation of the incident by the Administrative Review Board, the deputy admitted to the violation. As a result, they were disciplined with a 40 hour suspension. The suspension was reduced to 24 hours due to the violation being “Education Based Discipline,” according to the sheriff office’s report.