Pinellas detention deputy fired for unnecessary use of force

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office released a video showing Deputy Amy Gee with inmate Marie Butler on Jan. 8. It starts with the two standing at the booking counter and ends with Butler being lifted up from the floor.

CLEARWATER — A five-year veteran of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office lost her job April 5 after an investigation determined she had used unnecessary force on a female inmate.

A press release from the sheriff’s office says Deputy Amy Gee, 37, was working as a detention deputy in the intake/receiving area at the Pinellas County Jail assisting inmates through the booking process the night the incident occurred.

According to the Administrative Investigation Division, Marie Butler, 54, of Largo was transported to the jail, 14400 49th St. N. in Clearwater, about 9:02 p.m. Jan. 8, after she was arrested for disorderly intoxication.

Deputy Gee first encountered Butler when she approached her to take a booking photo. Butler failed to follow Gee’s direction and refused to look up at the camera.

Gee then escorted Butler to the booking counter, where she attempted to obtain Butler’s name for the purpose of identifying her, but Butler did not respond to Gee’s questioning.

While at the booking counter, Gee stood to the right side of Butler, holding Butler’s jacket with her left hand. Butler was secured in handcuffs with her hands behind her back. Butler shifted her weight away from Gee, who pulled Butler back toward her direction.

Butler then moved away from the deputy a second time. Gee again pulled Butler back towards her, this time placing her right hand around Butler’s neck and maintaining her hold as she slammed Butler to the ground.

Simultaneously, Gee placed her right foot behind Butler’s legs, which caused Butler to fall to the floor. Because Butler’s hands were secured behind her back, she was unable to break her fall. Butler fell backwards, landing directly on her left arm, which resulted in a fracture to her humerus bone.

Investigators say although Butler was not responding to Deputy Gee’s verbal direction, she was not physically resisting or verbally threatening deputies. Gee failed to speak or request any assistance from other deputies, and Butler’s actions did not demonstrate the necessity of the force used.

Butler told investigators, she lost her balance because she had consumed alcoholic beverages and reportedly said, “My gait wasn’t a hundred percent.”

Butler also told investigators that she suffered medical issues, which made it uncomfortable for her to stand, and she was not trying to get away or resist deputies.

During the course of the Administrative Investigation, Deputy Gee admitted that she reacted inappropriately and did not feel as if Butler was going to harm her or other deputies.

Investigators say Gee had not received discipline prior to this incident.

The Administrative Review Board determined that Deputy Gee utilized unnecessary force and violated sheriff’s office policy. She was terminated effective Friday, April 5.