TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - The speeding deputy who hit and killed a Hillsborough County teenager back in January will be suspended for five days but won’t face criminal charges, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office announced late Tuesday.
It was just before 6:30 p.m. back on January 11 when Deputy Philip Montesi was headed north on North Florida Avenue. According to deputies, he spotted someone walking a bicycle across the street and swerved to avoid it – in the process striking 15-year-old Josiah Pinner, who was also trying to cross the street. Pinner died at the scene.
Since that moment, his mother Joanne thinks of no one else.
"His clothes are in the same order, his shoes are where he left him."
At the time, Pinner’s family accused Deputy Montesi of delaying before returning to the scene of the crash, but the sheriff’s office insisted he turned around as soon as he safely could.
The sheriff’s office acknowledged that Montesi was not en route to an emergency when the crash happened, and was driving 21 mph above the speed limit in an attempt to catch up to other deputies.
But they also pointed out that Pinner was outside of the crosswalk on a dimly lit street after sunset.
“Due to the fact that Deputy Montesi's operation of his vehicle was not during the course of an emergency operation, his actions and conduct are held to the same standards required of any citizen who would have been driving northbound on North Florida Avenue that evening,” a sheriff’s office statement explained. “Based on the facts of this case, there was no probable cause to pursue criminal charges against Deputy Montesi.”
Instead, Montesi will be suspended without pay for five working days for speeding, and he’ll be required to attend an advanced driving course.
The state attorney’s office agreed with that conclusion, the sheriff’s office added.
Joanne wanted the deputy to face more punishment.
"Being charged in my son's death. Fired. Not five days," she said after learning of the results of the investigation. "My son's life is worth more than that."
The family's attorney says they will sue for wrongful death, and ask the courts to weigh Montesi's on-duty driving history. FOX 13 has learned that in February of 2017, he hit a pedestrian with his sideview mirrior while reading his laptop and going 41 mph in a 25-mph zone. HCSO reprimanded him for that.
His mother says the grieving will continue, no matter what the courts find.
"[I am feeling] heartache. Hell. Pain. Anger. Frustration," she said. "I am still living for Josiah."
A spokesperson said HCSO would not be discussing the case further because of the possible lawsuit.