Sarasota Sheriff’s deputy grabs jailed Black teenager by throat, sends him to hospital
Jail footage shows Deputy Neil Pizzo on Sept. 1 putting his hands around the neck of 17-year-old Terrence Reed at inmate intake and bringing him to the ground.

Pizzo incident
Sheriff Tom Knight put the Deputy on administrative leave pending an investigation.

A Sarasota County Sheriff’s deputy remains on leave after choking a Black teenager in jail and sending him to the hospital.

Surveillance footage provided to Florida Politics through the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office shows Deputy Neil Pizzo putting his hands around the neck of 17-year-old Terrence Reed at inmate intake and bringing him to the ground.

While Pizzo in a written statement said the action came because he sensed Reed was about to attack him, Sheriff Tom Knight said that when he watched video of the incident, Pizzo appeared to violate policy.

“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.”

Official reports showed the incident occurred Tuesday when Reed was being booked into a juvenile facility. Records show he was arrested on charges of possession and sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church or school and on violating probation and contempt of court charges stemming from prior arrests for burglary and unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon.

The video shows Reed sitting on a bench in intake, moving his arms beneath a red T-shirt. Pizzo can be seen on one side pointing at Reed at he speaks from across the room. Then Pizzo approaches Reed, who stands up from the bench. At that point, Pizzo puts his gloved hands around Reed’s neck and pushes him against the wall.

The teenager begins to struggle and reach back, at one point grabbing Pizzo’s right forearm and putting his arm on Pizzo’s shoulder. Pizzo pulls on the inmate’s shirt, then tosses him to the ground in the corner on the opposite side of the room. Pizzo climbs on top of Reed while he is turned to the ground as another deputy, Earl Matthews, comes over and grabs Reed by his legs and restrains him.

Pizzo appears to bind Reed’s hands behind the back, then, using his gloved hand, Pizzo slaps Reed at least three times before he is handcuffed. Three more deputies are shown arriving at the incident. About a minute and 40 seconds after the incident began, Reed is walked out of the room and into a holding cell.

Reports show Reed was later taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital and treated for abrasions to the head.

Pizzo provided his own account in writing of the incident in which he said Reed threatened him.

The deputy was checking another inmate into the facility at the same time Matthews was booking Reed. Both Matthews and Pizzo said Reed was not listening to officers, who asked him to keep his hands out of his pockets while waiting for a picture to be taken.

According to Pizzo, Reed refused that direction and said he was cold, then said “I’ll kill you Cracker if we on the streets, Ill blow your f***ing head off, you ain’t a real cop.”

Matthews’ account quotes Reed similarly, though with slightly different wording.

Pizzo said the expletives continued when Reed moved to the bench and put his hands in his shirt. It was after Reed said “f*** you, I’m code, I’m not going to do it cracker, I’d blow your top off” that Pizzo said he physically approached the teenager.

“I saw the look in his eyes and the stance that he immediately went into. Mr. Reed had his fists clenched and it was eminent I was going to be attacked and struck,” Pizzo writes. “I immediately stepped back from the potential strike and was able to close the distance between us. I was forced to step in and defend myself and the other persons within the room. I applied a right hand strike to the subject face area.”

No sound is recorded on jail videos to confirm or refute any of the statements made. But Reed is standing for only a second and not in a charging posture when Pizzo first grabs him. Footage provided by the jail shows the incident from two angles.

Knight said he immediately saw problems in how the events transpired when he watched the footage on Thursday and felt the same after seeing it in slow motion.

The Sheriff, who is retiring after his term of office wraps up this year, said the policy for his agency is “de-escalation.” Knight said only Pizzo is the subject of an internal investigation, and no other deputies involved in the incident appeared to potentially violate policy or the law.

The Sheriff won’t say what punishment ultimately will be delivered to the deputy. An Internal Affairs investigation of Pizzo has begun.

“It should take no more than three weeks, and my push will be to have it done in two,” Knight said.

Any decision on punishment will be based on witness accounts of the incident. Knight said Pizzo’s candor in the investigation will also be taken into account.

“Truth matters to me in Internal Affairs, and whether those involved accept their actions,” Knight said. “Cops are human, but being forthright, honest and truthful matters.”

An investigation may also shed light on what provoked the situation, but watching the video, Knight said he only saw the inmate speaking. What he said ultimately means little, according to the Sheriff.

“At the end of the day the First Amendment stands, and it doesn’t matter what people say,” Knight said. “Words never hurt anybody. I have seen the video, and I don’t care what the young man said. That’s not how we operate.”

Beyond discipline from the Sheriff’s Office, there remains a question of whether the deputy should face criminal charges.

“Everything is on the table,” Knight said.

If warranted, the Sheriff’s Office has the ability to arrest and send charges to the State Attorney for consideration.

Depending on how the event transpires, the incident could have political repercussions.

It happened during a period of strained relationships between law enforcement nationwide and the Black community. There’s also a race to choose Knight’s successor as Sheriff and a contested State Attorney’s race on the ballot this year, raising the potential the incident could become part of those community debates.

A few months ago, an incident in the City of Sarasota prompted an internal investigation there, but the use of force was ultimately deemed not to be improper.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.


46 comments

  • Mary

    September 5, 2020 at 8:01 am

    Thank you to Sherriff Tom Knight for being the voice of reason and taking immediate appropriate action.

    • Yaya

      September 16, 2020 at 2:16 am

      As Deputy Knight says, “I don’t care what the young man said. That’s not how we operate.Beyond discipline from the Sheriff’s Office, there remains a question of whether the deputy should face criminal charges.” I hope the family presses charges. This is an outrage.

  • John Wright

    September 5, 2020 at 9:18 am

    Reed is a criminal and run of the mill thug. Sheriff Knight should know that Reed looks to menace the officer. These corrections officers aren’t there to be abused by low life vermin like Reed.

    • James

      September 5, 2020 at 10:26 am

      Shuts up if don’t the kid personally

    • Emanuel

      September 5, 2020 at 10:44 am

      The fact that you’re calling a seventeen-year-old kid vermin you need a reality check don’t believe everything in the articles he will get Justice regardless of what you think you just another ignorant low life looking to keep the hate/rage on going best advice u need counseling your views are disgusting

      • kenna butler

        September 6, 2020 at 11:44 am

        Ive been assaulted, robbed, drugged and had my car taken, all by this “young mman” who robbed my grandparents house the day of my grandmothers wake…. he deserves a lot more then he got so check yourself… and i would say these facts regardless of his race

        • Yaya

          September 16, 2020 at 2:00 am

          Oh! So you’re the type of person who thinks it’s cool to assault a person? A teenager at that? Good to know 😉
          As Deputy Knight says, “I don’t care what the young man said. That’s not how we operate.”

        • Yaya

          September 16, 2020 at 2:27 am

          Yeah bitch YOU’RE the one who need to check YOURSELF! I’m very sorry that happened to you but this is a totally, completely different scenario. This boy… no boy who’s locked up or free deserves to be assaulted by a grown man who supposedly enforces the law that claims assault to be illegal!

        • Yaya

          September 16, 2020 at 2:36 am

          Question… how were you drugged? Do you even know what that means?

      • Tara

        September 9, 2020 at 8:20 pm

        You can tell that the young man was talking shit, he provoked the situation, the young man should have showed more respect

    • Mark

      September 5, 2020 at 10:59 am

      I don’t care what Mr. Reed said to Deputy Pizzo. There is no call for what happened. Even without slowing it down you can see that Pizzo walked across the room, irritated, and initiated an unnecessary escalation. Oddly enough the First Amendment backs my opinion, and also Sheriff Knight sees the same thing.

      • Yaya

        September 16, 2020 at 2:18 am

        Hi Mark! I wish I could “like” your post a thousand times!

    • Marquell

      September 5, 2020 at 12:30 pm

      Are y’all serious… With all this stuff going on y’all find it all on Reeds y’all just that boy based off his past the officer just sent Reeds to the hospital with head injuries but Reeds in the wrong cause he knew that something was finna happen to him and he tried to defend his self.

      • Christine H Howe

        September 5, 2020 at 4:23 pm

        Oh for crying out LOUD! What is that supposed to say?

      • Tamara

        September 6, 2020 at 6:47 am

        He wasn’t sent to the hospital with any major injuries… The article makes it seem like he was beaten so bad it sent him to the hospital. He was sent to the hospital to routinely check and clear him or injury. He had a few scratches and that’s it. Also, he got up and posture to fight. The deputy was seen gesturing multiple times while talking to him telling him to remove his arms from the shirt. He continued to resist as he was taken to the ground, which is what they’re trained to do to maintain control and cuff someone. He was not in any way harmed other than superficially.

        • Yaya

          September 16, 2020 at 2:34 am

          Well damn, you just assaulted this boy AGAIN! You obv defend cops regardless… even when they’re in the wrong. Shame on you. You’re disgusting.

      • anne nelson

        September 9, 2020 at 6:50 pm

        What the heck are you TRYING to articulate? Are you taking the crack the kid was selling? Or coke or what ever his 4 other charges are? God bless the people who have to deal with this obnoxious, drug dealing, robbing, rude, dangerous thugs day in and day out.

        • anne nelson

          September 9, 2020 at 6:52 pm

          my comment is for Marquell btw/NOT Tamara who made good points.

      • Yaya

        September 16, 2020 at 2:21 am

        Yes! Tell it, Marquell!

      • Yaya

        September 16, 2020 at 2:29 am

        Yes, tell it Marquell!

    • Christine H Howe

      September 5, 2020 at 4:21 pm

      If the corrections officers cannot take verbal bs from these thugs, then they should choose a different profession. It is plain stupid to let themselves be upset, angry or violent because some punk said something. The officer acted Like a 12 year old.

    • Sean McGee

      September 6, 2020 at 9:32 am

      Boy fuck off idgaf what he is bitch that’s somebody child this must be a white mf smfh y’all crackers out of your element couldn’t of been my boy cause I’d have a whole mfkn law suit with charges pressed if a fuck ass cop touch mine and bitch y’all white folks ain’t no damn saints round here killing people and doing the dumbest shit killing people in churches and shit walking Scott free you really need to stfu cause y’all pink booty asses ain’t NOOO better than us and we’re black and beautiful tf are y’all? Nothing but stealing everything you possibly can from blacks taking credit y’all actually beneath us dumbass cause when I turn my flat hand over it’s white so what does that say🤔 were truly above y’all pink booties y’all just use this white privilege supremacy shit boy bye with ya racist ass suck a whole BLACK cock!!!

      • kb

        September 6, 2020 at 5:20 pm

        You need to back the fuck up with your racist ass…. whats the difference between you calling us cracker and the n word? I know this fucking assshole and he got let than he deserved

        • Ap

          September 7, 2020 at 1:04 am

          You know him?

    • Kenna Butler

      September 6, 2020 at 11:37 am

      He robbed me stole my car threatened my life (basically the same stuff he said to the police and robbed my grandparents house on top of that and tried to steal my grandmothers car and when he couldn’t he trashed it….. i only knew his street name now i know the real one and i will be pressing charges…. hopefully the sarasota county police will believe me this time

    • David

      September 6, 2020 at 10:32 pm

      Like the sheriff said it doesn’t matter what he said to the officer you should not have put his hands on him

      • Yaya

        September 16, 2020 at 2:07 am

        Oh! So you’re the type of person who thinks it’s cool to assault a person? A teenager at that? Good to know 😉
        As Deputy Knight says, “I don’t care what the young man said. That’s not how we operate.”

    • Yaya

      September 16, 2020 at 1:52 am

      Oh! So you’re the type of person who thinks it’s cool to assault a person? A teenager at that? Good to know 😉

  • Walt

    September 5, 2020 at 10:01 am

    You should check out this website someone put up dedicated to another Sarasota deputy who felt “threatened” like this a time or three apparently. http://www.brandonvermillion.com

  • Craig

    September 5, 2020 at 10:21 am

    Pizzo was too soft on him. Should have gone harder.

    • Caryer

      September 5, 2020 at 10:27 am

      Racist why tf would you even comment that you Jesus in your life

      • John

        September 5, 2020 at 12:12 pm

        This is to Craig & John Wright, u are ignorant as heck. There are a lot of people who literally have to raise themselves, some believes NOBODGIVES A F. There is one place that they find love some thugs in the streets. Some kids tried to do better, some choose what they choose. These young kids just need to C people give a F. They need somebody who will NOT JUDGE THEM, BE THERE FOR THEM AS A FRIEND TO GUIDE THEM. ALL N ALL NOBODY CHANGES OVER NIGHT. SO UNTIL YOU HAVE EXPIRENCED WHAT THEY BEEN THROUGH SHUT UP. PEOPLE EVERYBODY GOES THROUGH DIFFERENT SITUATIONS IN LIFE IT IS WHAT IT IS. OPINIONS ARE OPINIONS,BUT WHO ARE WE TO JUDGE & WE’RE NOT GOD.

    • Emanuel irving

      September 5, 2020 at 10:39 am

      Craig your plain ignorant regardless he just a 17 year old kid u act as if he deserved death penalty people like u and that soon to be fired cop are the reason black live matter campaigns thrive I bet if it was your kid bet you wouldn’t be so opinionated

    • alyssa

      September 5, 2020 at 10:52 am

      ummmm you’re racist don’t even reed didn’t deserve to be tossed around the way he did, if anything they need to get their cops in line

    • Mark

      September 5, 2020 at 11:07 am

      Yes, that way Pizzo would definitely be charged, another young black man hurt or killed over words. That would definitely be good for the community right? Think before you speak or take your ignorance back to wherever you came from, I’m guessing New York or Jersey.

      • Lil’Hoover

        September 5, 2020 at 6:45 pm

        Seriously, watch the video. Reed balls his fist several times.

    • M. Belleford

      September 13, 2020 at 7:38 pm

      That’s right. He deserved to be killed. After all, he’s not really human. He’s just another N–thug. Rizzo and those like him understand people like you will always support their actions. He was not meting out judicial punishment. He got angry,lost control, and just happened to get caught in the act.

  • CJ Smith

    September 5, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Did anyone actually watch this video? The kid jumps up, locks his eyes on the deputy and bows his arms like he’s about to fight. The deputy was casually walking over to the kid, when he jumped up (in an unmistakable threatening manner) the officer quickly reacts. When you slow the video down to 25% you can clearly see the officer lean back in reaction, square up then take appropriate action. In the second clip you can see the officer’s face as he approaches- there is no maliciousness or dominance in his countenance. As soon as the kid jumps up you can see the officer’s eyes go wide and alert as his training kicks and and he swiftly subdues him without excessive force. When they go to the ground he only strikes him while he’s resisting the hand cuffs being put on. This officer did nothing wrong, and I would not defend him if he had.

  • joan

    September 6, 2020 at 3:36 am

    1. One more white policeman beating a black man around the head… because looked at him funny.

    2. Who talks this way? ” “I saw the look in his eyes and the stance that he immediately went into. Mr. Reed had his fists clenched and it was eminent I was going to be attacked and struck,” Pizzo writes. “I immediately stepped back from the potential strike and was able to close the distance between us. I was forced to step in and defend myself and the other persons within the room. I applied a right hand strike to the subject face area.”

  • Senor

    September 6, 2020 at 9:43 am

    – Suspect clearly did not obey commands
    – Suspect wasn’t cuffed and had hands under his shirt, not in plain sight being a potential danger to himself and others
    – Deputy approached suspect to eliminate threat
    – Suspect Immediately went from sitting position to aggressive stance
    – Deputy reacted to defend himself and continued to do so until the threat was eliminated
    – How should a deputy deescalate when a subject is not complying? Walk away, give him milk and cookies, call his mom that raised this fine lad?
    – Once the deputy approached the subject, and the subject aggressively, in an offensive stance stepped to the law, should the deputy have taken a blow and risk having his weapons taken resulting in a much worse situation
    – Monday morning quarterbacks That have the luxury of replaying the tapes Over and over in slow motion
    – This event happened in real time folks. Put yourself in the deputy’s shoes. How about the punk not Putting himself in the situation to begin with and obeying the law. We are a nation of law and order

  • Latwatta

    September 6, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    dis boy be tryin’ to tuen his life around. But he got in wiff da wrong group. He din do nuffin..know what i’m sayin’

  • Charles L Smith

    September 7, 2020 at 6:03 am

    I’m sure he was patted down, and search before he was place there, so where was the threat.

  • Greg Kates

    September 7, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    Everyone is really taking this out of proportion. Let’s look at the facts first:
    1. The kid was in corrections for criminal activity, hardly an innocent in the matter
    2. The corrections officers are trained to deal with criminals in physical fashion, if not, then the criminals would run the facilities
    3. He hit him with open hands (hardly anything more than demoralizing)
    4. After restrained, at no point does the officer do anything that shows that his motive was anything less than restraining the teen
    5. Judging by the size difference, the officer could’ve done way worse if he wanted to
    6. Had the officer been black, this would not have made news.

    As an African American male, who has seen plenty of police brutality, this is more so wrong place wrong time than anything else. If it was not for the BLM movement (which i am in support of) this would not have made news. Corrections officers have to physically restrain criminals all the time, and protocol after having to physically restrain them is for them to be seen by a medical professional to confirm their status afterwards and provide necessary assistance if needed.

    Kudos to Officer Reed for showing a level of restraint when having to use his size and strength to coral that teen, granted not everyone would’ve wanted to see it go down in that fashion; fact is, this is what these officers are being paid for. Don’t confuse the factor that they are dealing with mainly teenagers with a lower level of security risk. The only difference between this teenager and an adult is 1 year, and had this been a prison, no one would’ve questioned it.

    • David Robertson

      September 8, 2020 at 1:39 pm

      Fire and charge all three pigs

  • betty holmes

    September 9, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    This is so sad. What is the world coming to. I just say this is uncall for.

  • Richard millie

    September 10, 2020 at 9:06 am

    That officer clearly was punching that youngman first and then started slapping him post it all not half of it

Comments are closed.


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