Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Felony charges dropped against Pinellas jail deputies

Prosecutors have decided not to pursue felony charges against two former Pinellas jail deputies who were accused of official misconduct after an altercation with an inmate.

One of the deputies also was accused of misdemeanor battery for striking the inmate, which several other prisoners said they witnessed. Prosecutors decided not to purse that charge as well.

The decision was made because the inmate "has zero credibility based on his criminal history and testimonial demeanor" and the other inmates provided "inconsistent statements," according to a memo from Assistant State Attorney William Loughery.

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Wednesday he disagreed with that assessment of the inmate. "Is he an angel? Absolutely not. But he didn't lie about this."

Gualtieri stands by the decision to seek charges against his own deputies, but said he understands a prosecutor has to weigh whether there is "a successful likelihood of conviction."

The cases stem from an incident at the jail on Oct. 3, 2013. An inmate, Casio Burton, 28, waved and yelled at a window inside the jail's control room, which is surrounded by thick plate glass and deputy workstations. Burton was trying to get the attention of Deputy Mark Capanna.

As he did, Deputy Klaus Reinert left the room and asked Burton what he wanted. The two began yelling at each other, Gualtieri said in October, using "a lot of profanity, a lot of swearing, a lot of F words."

Reinert returned to the control room and Burton kept at it. When Reinert came back out, he told Burton to shut up and used a vulgar phrase to describe Burton's mouth, Gualtieri said then.

Burton shot back with a similar insult, but tied it to Reinert's mother. Reinert responded by punching Burton below the eye, Gualtieri said at the time.

Reinert was later booked into the jail on a misdemeanor battery charge. He and Capanna also were accused of felony misconduct charges based on allegations they falsified reports they eventually wrote about the fight.

But prosecutor Loughery said there wasn't enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Reinert committed the crime of battery.

It's clear Reinert and Burton were arguing and exchanging vulgarities, which resulted in physical confrontation, "but there was insufficient proof to determine who was the aggressor or if it was just a mutual combat situation," Loughery said.

What about the nine inmates who claimed Reinert hit Burton?

Their statements were inconsistent and sometimes contradictory, he said. Some inmates were located in places where they couldn't actually see the fight.

Asked if the State Attorney's Office was reluctant to follow through on charges against law enforcement officers, Loughery said no. "We would be prosecuting the case if we felt we had sufficient evidence."

Burton has a lengthy criminal history that includes convictions for battery, burglary, drug possession and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Reinert declined to comment Wednesday. Capanna could not be reached. Both deputies resigned last year.

Felony charges dropped against Pinellas jail deputies 03/19/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 11:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Photo of the Day for September 25, 2017 - Tufted Titmouse

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from Christopher Woods of Palm Harbor, FL. He calls it "Tufted Titmouse."

  2. Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel, prolific Tampa Bay philanthropists, are putting up $200 million to create and run a new medical school under Nova Southeastern University. Here is a rendering of the proposed campus [Courtesy of Southestern Noval University}
  3. Two new condo projects for same street in downtown St. Pete

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — It lacks the panache and name recognition of Beach Drive, but 4th Avenue N in downtown St. Petersburg is becoming a condo row in its own right.

    Bezu, a condo project planned at 100 4th Ave. N in downtown St. Petersburg, will have 24 units including a three-level penthouse with infinity pool.
[Courtesy of Clear ph Design]
  4. HomeTeam 25: Football rankings for Tampa Bay


    1. Armwood (2-0)

    Up next: at Blake (Thursday)

    Armwood High School quarterback Devin Black (7) hands the ball off to running back Larry Anderson (13) during the Spring Football Jamboree in Seffner, Fla. on Thursday, May 18, 2017.
  5. 2018 Sunshine Music Festival lineup: Tedeschi Trucks Band, Phish's Mike Gordon, more


    Tedeschi Trucks Band is injecting a little extra jam into next year's Sunshine Music Festival.

    Tedeschi Trucks Band