Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Internal affairs investigations launched in recent Sheriff's Office deaths, Gualtieri says

Gualtieri says it appears procedures weren’t followed.

Gualtieri says it appears procedures weren’t followed.

LARGO — The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is launching internal affairs investigations into the deaths of two men who were killed this year while in custody, Sheriff Bob Gual­tieri announced Thursday.

Investigators will review policies and the actions of several employees, who could receive "serious discipline," the sheriff said.

"Based upon what I have learned as a result of the initial fact-gathering," Gualtieri said, "I have great concerns that policies that should have been followed weren't followed."

The cases started July 6, when Thomas Morrow, 59, was put in protective custody under the state Marchman Act and put inside a transport van driven by a security officer en route to the jail. That same night, Leonard David Lanni, 37, was picked up on a charge of disorderly conduct.

A few miles from the jail, the driver glanced at a live monitor that showed the van's passenger compartment. He noticed that Lanni was kicking Morrow, who had fallen from the bench.

The driver, later identified as Andrey Izrailov, pulled into a parking lot and asked two deputies to restrain Lanni.

Morrow remained bedridden and unable to walk or talk until his death Sept. 12. Lanni now faces a second-degree murder charge and remains at the Pinellas County Jail.

About two weeks later, Kelly Damon Harding, 48, was choked to death by inmate Scott Alexander Greenberg, who shoved toilet paper down Harding's throat, the Sheriff's Office said. Gualtieri later learned Harding, a misdemeanor inmate, had been mistakenly housed with inmates charged with felonies.

Harding had been arrested last October on a burglary charge, a felony. But in January, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of trespassing, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to serve one year at the jail. After the sentencing, Harding's case number was not updated to reflect his change in status, Gualtieri said in July.

Days later when the inmate records section received Harding's sentencing documents, his new status still was overlooked.

Harding's interaction with felons at the jail had been limited since he spent most of his time in a single cell due to behavioral issues. That was until July 20, when he was relocated to a cell with Greenberg, accused of killing his girlfriend. Greenberg was charged with first-degree murder in Harding's death.

After each incident, Gualtieri ordered preliminary reviews to look for any policy violations. After reading each review, the sheriff said launching internal affairs investigations was "the right thing to do."

Because both cases remain active, Gualtieri is limited in what details he can disclose, but he said roughly four to six employees in "supervisory and management positions" were being investigated.

The investigations could lead to changes in Sheriff's Office policies, he added. In the Morrow case, investigators will look at whether policies regarding inmate restraint and separation in the transport van were followed. In the Harding case, classification procedures will be reviewed.

In Morrow's death, Gual­tieri said the van driver, an officer with the private security company G4S Secure Solutions, under contract with the Sheriff's Office, was not at fault.

Both investigations are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

"I had no idea when we launched the preliminary reviews," he said, "as to what we were going to find."

Internal affairs investigations launched in recent Sheriff's Office deaths, Gualtieri says 10/10/13 [Last modified: Friday, October 11, 2013 12:05am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  2. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  3. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  4. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile


    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.
  5. Rays blow lead, rally, blow lead, rally again to beat Twins in 15 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays sure made it interesting Sunday, taking an early lead, watching their beleaguered bullpen blow it, rallying to tie in the ninth, battling the Twins to take a lead in the 14th then giving it up again.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 28: Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates scoring a run against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on May 28, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010990