Sunday, January 21, 2018
Public safety

Two Pinellas detention deputies charged in fight with inmate

LARGO — Two former detention deputies face criminal charges, including misconduct and battery on an inmate, essentially over what started as a "your momma" slur.

About 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 3, inmate Casio Burton, 28, waved and yelled at a window inside the Pinellas County Jail's control room. The room is surrounded by thick plate glass and deputy workstations.

Burton, who was arrested on suspicion of possessing cocaine and battery on a law enforcement officer, was waiting to be transferred to the Pasco County Jail. Earlier in the day, Burton had spoken with Deputy Mark Capanna, 44, about his visitation list.

Capanna sat behind the glass, and as Burton tried to get his attention, another deputy exited the room.

According to Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Deputy Klaus Reinert, 40, yelled to Burton: "What the f---- do you want?"

Gualtieri said Reinert and Burton began screaming, 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.

The next time Reinert walked out, he told Burton to shut up, describing Burton's mouth by using a vulgar word, Gualtieri said.

Burton riposted with the same vulgarity, but tied it to Reinert's mother. Reinert responded by punching Burton below the eye, Gualtieri said.

Burton hit the deputy back and the two struggled on the ground "and it was jut a knock-down, drag-out, scrapping fight," Gaultieri said.

Afterward, Burton was transferred, and neither Cappana nor Reinert filled out a report about the fight.

The following day, Gualtieri said, inmates who witnessed the fight filed complaints against the two deputies. Supervisors conducted an investigation and after interviews with inmates, they spoke with Capanna and Reinert.

The two deputies wrote similar incident reports that said Reinert walked outside the control room to confront Burton, but put his hands up because he thought he was about to be attacked. Reinert fell, the reports said, and they never thought to document it because Reinert was embarrassed that he had slipped.

Nine inmates said otherwise.

This time, detectives began a criminal investigation. Reinert and Capanna again denied a fight, sticking to their "slip-and-fall" story, Gualtieri said.

A few days later, Capanna admitted to detectives that there was a fight. He told detectives he had seen Reinert scuffling with Burton and the two deputies had concocted the slipping story to hide it all.

Reinert and Capanna resigned. They turned themselves in on Tuesday. Both were charged with official misconduct. Reinert was charged with battery as well. The two were booked into the Pinellas County Jail; each was held in lieu of $5,000 bail.

 
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