Saturday, February 17, 2018
Public safety

Questions raised about history of officer who drove Pinellas jail transport van

LARGO — The security officer who was driving a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office transport van last month when a man in custody in the back was severely beaten by another detainee had a checkered past as a Pasco deputy.

Andrey Izrailov, 41, had worked at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office for about 12 years when, starting in 2008, he was the subject of a six-month internal affairs investigation in which he faced 39 counts of misconduct.

He now is employed by G4S Secure Solutions, a security company hired by the Sheriff's Office for the past six years to work in several Pinellas locations, including the county jail and the Clearwater courthouse.

Izrailov, whose name was not released after the beating incident, is among the G4S officers assigned to drive the Sheriff's Office jail transport vans, picking up detainees and taking them to the jail.

On July 6, Izrailov was heading to the jail with two intoxicated detainees handcuffed and shackled in the back of the van: Thomas Morrow, 59, of Treasure Island who was taken into custody under the state's Marchman Act; and Leonard David Lanni Jr., 37, of St. Pete Beach, arrested and accused of disorderly conduct.

About 3 miles from the jail, Izrailov glanced at the live monitor that displays the passenger compartment of the van and noticed that Morrow had fallen from the bench. Seconds later, Lanni began to kick him.

Izrailov pulled into a parking lot and asked two deputies there for help. They restrained Lanni.

Nearly two months after the attack, Morrow remains in critical condition, incapable of talking or walking.

Lanni, still in jail, was initially charged with aggravated battery, but the charge now has been upgraded to second-degree attempted murder, court records show.

In 2009, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Pasco County Sheriff's Office investigators found Izrailov routinely stopped for meals and bathroom breaks before responding to calls, including a reported bank holdup and an alarm at an elementary school. The accusations included 18 counts of falsifying documents.

Izrailov did not defend his actions when interviewed by investigators in 2009 and was fired by the Pasco Sheriff's Office.

He could not be reached for comment Friday.

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri defended Izrailov.

"People change," he said. "People in life deserve second chances, and they can get their act together."

Gualtieri said he spoke with G4S officials Friday who said Izrailov was reinstated as a Pasco deputy after an appeals hearing and later resigned. The Times could not verify that information Friday evening.

Michael Babboni, the lawyer representing Morrow, said he and Morrow's family were upset that G4S hired Izrailov.

"We were stunned and horrified to see that G4S would have hired somebody with that type of background for this type of a position," he said.

The Times asked G4S for comment and received this email from a company spokeswoman: "G4S bases hiring decisions on a candidate's qualifications and experience and on the candidate's ability to pass complete background and drug screening checks, in accordance with the law."

Gualtieri said he is in the process of reviewing the investigative report on the July 6 beating incident but that it appears Izrailov was not at fault for what happened to Morrow.

"As soon as he sees him fall off the bench, he immediately pulled over. What's the guy supposed to do?" Gualtieri said. "There are some things that probably should have been done differently, but not necessarily by him."

Morrow was moved on Friday from Bayfront Health St. Petersburg to Kindred Hospital, a long-term care facility. He has been unconscious most of the time since the beating. His ventilator was removed, but he remains bedridden and can't walk or talk. He has undergone a tracheotomy and requires a feeding tube.

"It continues to be just a tragic, tragic set of injuries," Babboni said. "At this point, we still don't know what the end result is going to be."

Times staff researcher Natalie A. Watson contributed to this report. Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected] or (727)445-4157.

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