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Pasco jail deputy punches inmate, gets arrested

LAND O'LAKES — A county jail detention deputy was himself booked into jail after he grabbed and punched an inmate in the medical ward on Christmas night, according to reports.

About 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Philip Bruce Walters grabbed Trent Godizzaro by the neck and punched him in the head, according to a Pasco Sheriff's Office report. It was unclear what led up to the incident.

During the scuffle, the inmate grabbed the two-way radio Walters was carrying and called for help, said sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll.

When other deputies arrived, they found Godizzaro with a bruise on his forehead and scrapes to his neck.

Witnesses told them the beating happened "with no aggressive manner from the inmate," the report states.

During questioning, Walters, 45, first denied the beating, then told other deputies "the inmate sat up in an aggressive manner and (Walters) had to push him back into his bunk," the report says.

Walters, an Army combat veteran, was arrested on a charge of battery at 4 a.m. Wednesday and released 45 minutes later when he posted $500 bail. The Sheriff's Office said he was being fired Wednesday afternoon.

Godizzaro, 29, has been in jail since Nov. 15. He was arrested on a warrant connected to a domestic battery case from July. Reports from that day say Godizzaro became angry when his brother wouldn't let him use his house in Hudson as a mailing address.

Walters had worked at the jail since March, according to his personnel file.

efore that, he worked in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, where he was rated in evaluations as satisfactory in dealing with conflict and frustration.

He was a sergeant in the Army from 1986 to 1990 and left with an honorable discharge. He later served in the Army Reserve from 1998 to 2001 and 2002 through 2009. Records show Walters served one tour of duty in Iraq in 2008.

Charles Walter, 43, who works as a corrections officer in Pennsylvania, said he can't imagine his brother hitting an inmate.

"That would be totally beyond his character to swing at someone unless he was defending himself," he said.

The two worked together in Pennsylvania before Philip moved to Florida. He said Philip wasn't new to being provoked by inmates.

"They would throw feces, urine," he said. "Talk about your family, your mother, your brother, your sister. Anything to get you going."

Alex Orlando can be reached at aorlando@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6247.

Pasco jail deputy punches inmate, gets arrested 12/26/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 8:29pm]
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