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Man who accused Pinellas narcotics detectives of brutality dies after motorcycle wreck

A man who accused Pinellas sheriff's narcotics detectives of roughing him up during an arrest died Wednesday night from injuries he suffered in a motorcycle crash.

Sergio "Junior" Valdivieso, 34, was at the center of a complaint of brutality lodged against the troubled narcotics unit of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Internal affairs investigators are looking into his Sept. 2 arrest by the agency's narcotics detectives at the WingHouse at 7369 Ulmerton Road. A civil rights complaint also was made to the U.S. Justice Department.

The sergeant who ordered Valdivieso's arrest, Chris Taylor, was one of four narcotics detectives recently relieved of duty amid allegations of misconduct.

Now Valdivieso's death may hamper the investigation into his arrest: The Largo man refused to speak to internal affairs without a promise of immunity.

"They refused to make those allegations known to us so we can properly investigate," said Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. "I think that's wrong, and it's not fair to the deputies. If it turns out that he's the only (witness) and he made these allegations ... who can we hold accountable for something we haven't been able to investigate?"

But Clearwater attorney Jordan Tawil said they'll provide the Sheriff's Office with other witnesses.

According to the Sheriff's Office, detectives searched Valdivieso's home on Sept. 2 and confiscated marijuana and $3,000. They let him go when Valdivieso promised to act as a confidential informant, the agency said, but arrested him on drug charges later that night at the WingHouse when he reneged.

He was free on bond when the crash took place Tuesday. Pinellas Park police said Valdivieso was driving a 2003 Suzuki motorcycle north on Belcher Road around 8:20 p.m. A 2001 Mitsubishi SUV driven by Diana Moss, 49, was headed south. Then the SUV turned left, police said, cutting off Valdivieso's path.

He was flown to a St. Petersburg hospital with life-threatening injuries. Moss was not hurt. Drugs and alcohol do not appear to be linked to the crash, police said. No charges have been filed, but the investigation is continuing.

Man who accused Pinellas narcotics detectives of brutality dies after motorcycle wreck 04/26/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 26, 2012 10:46pm]
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