Investigation Launched After Black Teenager Was Choked and Hit by Deputy in Florida

An investigation has been launched after surveillance footage from within a Florida corrections facility showed a deputy hitting and choking a Black teen.


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An investigation has been launched after surveillance footage from within a Florida corrections facility showed a deputy hitting and choking a Black teen.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that Terrance Devon Reed III, the 17-year-old featured in the video, was shown getting into a violent encounter with corrections deputy, Neil Pizzo. The incident went down at the Sarasota County Juvenile Assessment Center, and after seeing the footage, Sheriff Tom Knight opened an investigation and has placed the deputy on leave.

"I feel disappointment. I feel that I am disappointed in what I saw,” Knight explained. “In an abundance of caution I put him [Pizzo] on administrative duty. At first blush, it’s the first thing you’re going to see as a reporter; something went wrong." As seen in the clip, which doesn't feature any audio, Pizzo and Reed speak for a few moments before the deputy motions toward the teenager before walking over to him.

It happens relatively quickly, but shortly after standing in front of Reed, there's a change in body language from both of them. Reed appears to jump to his feet, bowing his arms to the side, and the deputy subsequently grabs Reed's neck and strikes him in the face. The two begin a struggle, while Deputy Earl Matthews arrives as Pizzo throws Reed to the floor and restrains him.

Reed was arrested and charged with contempt of court, probation violations, possession of cocaine, and selling cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church. He's only helped off of his feet one minute and 40 seconds into the video. Due to the injuries he sustained during the incident, he was later taken to the Sarasota Memorial Hospital for treatment. Knight has expressed his concern that there was no attempt to de-escalate the situation.

The disturbing footage is below:

"We are responsible for de-escalating the situation,” Knight added. “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?" 

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