CLEARWATER – Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri discussed the details Feb. 24 of the internal affairs investigation, which resulted in the arrest of a 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.
The incident occurred on Aug. 31, 2013 at the Pinellas County Jail.
According to internal affairs investigators, detention deputy Joel De Los Reyes, 51, 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, 49, who entered the housing area through an emergency door, which remained opened and unsecured. At the same time, an inner cell door used to secure the juvenile inmates was left open.
Nanu remained outside the emergency doors.
De Los Reyes decided to remove the inmate, identified as Steven Valentin, 16, of New Port Richey from the cell. Deputies say he walked him over to the day room, pushed him onto a table. De Los Reyes continued to escort inmate Valentin out towards the emergency door, where Nanu was now entering. As they walked toward the door, De Los Reyes delivered a knee strike and an elbow strike to inmate Valentin.
Nenu documented in his supplement initially that inmate Valentin was verbally abusive towards De Los Reyes. 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.
De Los Reyes failed to report the use of force to his chain of command. 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. De los Reyes resigned while under investigation.
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 a.m. Feb. 24 on charges of battery. He had been employed by the Sheriff’s Office since Feb. 27, 2006.
Nenu received a seven-day suspension for failing to report the incident to supervision immediately and for misrepresenting the facts of the case. Nenu has been employed by the Sheriff’s Office since May 29, 1988.