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Former Pinellas Deputy Charged with Battering an Inmate

Former Pinellas Deputy Charged with Battering an Inmate

LARGO, Fla. (970 WFLA) - Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has released the details of the internal affairs investigation which resulted in the arrest of a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office detention deputy for battery on an inmate. A second detention deputy has been disciplined failing to immediately report the use of force and misrepresenting the facts of the incident, officials said.

According to internal affairs investigators, Detention Deputy Joel De Los Reyes was assigned to supervise a juvenile pod at the Pinellas County Jail. 

Investigators say De Los Reyes became engaged in a verbal exchange with one of the inmates over whether the television would remain on or off; and regarding horseplay between inmates.

De Los Reyes summoned assistance from Detention Deputy Adrian Nanu, authorities said, who entered the housing area through an emergency door, and the emergency door remained opened and unsecured. At the same time, an inner cell door used to secure the juvenile inmates was left open, officials said. Nanu remained outside the emergency doors, officials said.

De Los Reyes decided to remove the inmate, identified as Steven Valentin from the cell, deputies said. Deputies say he walked him over to the day room, pushed him onto a table. Deputy De Los Reyes continued to escort inmate Valentin out towards the emergency door, where Nanu was now entering, authorities said. As they walked toward the door, authorities said De Los Reyes delivered a knee strike and an elbow strike to inmate Valentin.

Authorities said Detention Deputy Nenu documented in his supplement initially that inmate Valentin was verbally abusive towards Deputy De Los Reyes. Deputy Nenu initially indicated that he witnessed the deputy deliver a "guided custodial touch" to the inmate, but later admitted that this was an inaccurate representation of what had occurred.

Officials said De Los Reyes failed to report the use of force to his chain of command. Authorities added he initially stated the inmate was not compliant and that his strike was not excessive. He later admitted to using excessive force.

An internal affairs investigation was initiated as a result of the incident. 

De los Reyes resigned while under investigation, officials said. The case was also investigated by the Sheriff's Office Robbery/Homicide Unit, who determined probable cause for arrest. De Los Reyes turned himself in to the Pinellas County Jail at about 10:00 a.m. on February 24, 2014 on charges of battery.

Nenu received a seven day suspension for failing to report the incident to supervision immediately and for misrepresenting the facts of the case.

Photo Credit Pinellas County Sheriff's Office



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