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Florida sheriff’s deputy put on leave after choking and punching Black teen

Disturbing surveillance footage of the incident has prompted a department investigation.

Neil Pizzo and Terrance Devon Reed III Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

A disturbing video of a Florida sheriff’s deputy punching and choking a Black teenager has prompted an investigation by the department. Surveillance footage from within the Sarasota County Juvenile Assessment Center shows 17-year-old Terrance Devon Reed III sitting in what appears to be a waiting area before the encounter.

The Sarasota County sheriff’s deputy — who has been identified as Neil Pizzo — is then seen gesturing toward the teen. Suddenly, the audio-less footage shows Pizzo appearing to charge at Reed, as Reed jumps to his feet. Pizzo chokes the teenager and begins striking him in the face, before wrestling him down to the ground.

Another deputy — Earl Matthews — enters the room and sits on Reed’s legs while Pizzo beats the teen with a stick and handcuffs him. Several other officers enter the room and Reed is carried out in handcuffs.

After seeing the violent footage, Sheriff Tom Knight has now opened an investigation into the incident and placed Pizzo on administrative leave, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

“I feel disappointment. I feel that I am disappointed in what I saw,” Knight said of the incident. “In an abundance of caution I put him [Pizzo] on administrative duty. At first blush, it’s the first thing you’re going to see as a reporter; something went wrong.”

“We are responsible for de-escalating the situation,” he continued. “Was the de-escalation practice put into play there?... If a deputy is trying to de-escalate and you go hands on and you have a confrontation, what did he attempt to do prior to the physical confrontation to prevent it from happening?”

Reed had reportedly been arrested and charged with contempt of court, probation violations, possession of cocaine and selling cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church. Due to the injuries he sustained during the aggressive interaction with Pizzo — which included cuts on his head — Reed was later taken to the Sarasota Memorial Hospital for treatment.

See disturbing video of the incident below.

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