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Hillsborough detention sergeant charged with assaulting inmate

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office detention sergeant was charged Sunday with assaulting an inmate in the Orient Road Jail.

Michael Gonzalez, 40, who was hired as a detention deputy 20 years ago, was charged with misdemeanor battery after he hit and kicked a handcuffed inmate in the head without provocation, according to the Sheriff's Office.

This is what the Sheriff's Office says happened:

About 4:20 p.m. Saturday, inmate Mark P. Luft, 20, was taken to a housing unit because he had caused a disturbance in the jail's booking area. Luft, of Lutz, had been arrested earlier that day, charged with possession of cannabis.

Gonzalez and at least two other deputies entered the cell to exchange the inmate's jail uniform for a gown. Luft was handcuffed and on the floor when Gonzalez hit and kicked him.

Luft suffered minor injuries to his face and lip and was treated by the medical staff at the Orient Road Jail. He was transferred to Falkenburg Road Jail on Sunday for a second medical evaluation.

A deputy who witnessed the incident notified a jail commander and the Sheriff's Office started a criminal investigation.

When Gonzalez arrived Sunday for his shift, Internal Affairs detectives questioned him. The investigators also took statements from witnesses and Luft. Then the Sheriff's Office arrested Gonzalez.

Gonzalez was hired by the Sheriff's Office in 1990. His bail was set at $500.

The Sheriff's Office said it will conduct an internal investigation. It would not release further details, including a video of the incident, citing the pending investigation.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Hillsborough detention sergeant charged with assaulting inmate 05/30/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 31, 2010 12:44am]
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