Sarasota deputy on leave after physical altercation with teen inmate

Sarasota County

SARAOSTA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Sarasota County deputy is on administrative leave after a physical altercation with a teen inmate at a county correctional facility sent the boy to the hospital.

Video released to WFLA.com by the sheriff’s office shows 46-year-old Deputy Neil Pizzo turn a verbal argument with a 17-year-old inmate into a physical one Tuesday evening.

Pizzo said the teen was asked multiple times to remove his arms from inside his shirt for safety reasons, but refused to do so. Pizzo said the teen was saying things like: “I’ll kill you cracker if we on the streets. I’ll blow your ****ing head off, you ain’t a real cop.”

The deputy eventually walked over to the teen, who he said was still not complying with verbal commands to remove his arms from inside his shirt. When Pizzo approached, the teen jumped up from the bench and pulled his arms from his shirt.

Pizzo said the teen’s actions appeared threatening.

The deputy said he “saw the look in his eyes and the stance that he immediately went into.” He said the teen’s fists made it appear “eminent” he was going to be attacked and struck.

Pizzo said he acted out of self defense and defense for the other deputies in the room when he placed his hands on the boy. He eventually took him to the ground because the teen was “extremely strong ” and he could no longer hold him to the wall. Multiple deputies responded to the room and assisted in apprehending him.

The boy was transported to the hospital shortly after the incident to treat an abrasion on his head.

Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight told Florida Politics that the altercation appeared to be a violation of policy on the deputy’s part.

“We slowed the frames down and looked at it and I said, ‘We’ve got a problem,’” Knight said. “It appears we have a violation of policy, and we relieved him of his ability to go to work.”

The deputy has been placed on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated.

Records show the teen was in jail after being charged with possession and sale of cocaine and violating probation.

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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