CLEARWATER -- A former Pinellas deputy quit his job and is facing charges over what his ex-boss calls an attack without provocation.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says Patrick Knight, a sergeant at the jail, responded to a call the morning of November 19, over a felony suspect who was placed in a holding cell in handcuffs. Terrell Johnson had been booked into jail about 1 a.m. and seven hours later, he was being asked questions about his health as part of the intake process. Gualtieri says Johnson became agitated after telling his interviewer that he was allergic to tomatoes. He was handcuffed from behind and marched into a cell with a metal door. Once inside, he began kicking the door, which made a loud noise.
Gualtieri says Knight ordered the cell be opened, then he walked inside. Johnson turned to show him his cuffs were too tight. Knight shoved the handcuffed inmate to the floor, causing him to hit his head on a bunk. Then, Gualtieri says, he grabbed his hair and pinned the inmate against a wall, and slapped and punched him, causing a laceration over Johnson's left eye. Gualtieri says Knight pulled the hair so hard that it came out in a clump. Knight's supervisor noticed a discrepancy in Knight's report, when he claimed that Johnson's injuries were caused by the shove, which he claimed was the result of Johnson kicking him. Knight's partner also came forward with new information. Gualtieri says the "lies" in Knight's report constituted official misconduct.
Knight resigned November 22nd, and was arrested Monday (29).
Corporal Jamison Jesse admitted he had backed up Knight's story at first before coming forward and changing his story. His behavior is the subject of an internal affairs investigation according to Gualtieri, but Jesse is not accused of attacking the inmate.
Gualtieri insists his most of his deputies do the right thing and that they know to do the right thing. He also insists it's not a training problem, telling reporters "you can't train against stupid."
Watch his news conference below: