Hernando County sheriff shows jail video of 'distressed' inmate prior to his death

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office is releasing details about the death of an inmate nearly one year prior. 

The inmate, Timothy Peters, who was in custody at the Hernando County Detention Center, later died at the hospital on April 16, 2022. At the time, the sheriff's office said he was being removed from his cell while resisting deputies.

Read the original press release from the sheriff's office here.

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During a press conference on April 14, 2023, the sheriff revealed the outcome of an investigation into Peters' death and showed nine minutes of video from the detention facility the day Peters collapsed.

The incident started early April 13, just before 6 a.m. Peters was reportedly banging "violently" on a neighbor's door, trying to "evangelize that neighbor," Nienhuis said.

Peters was reportedly under the influence of alcohol. Arriving deputies said Peters was combative. At one point, he swung a beer bottle at a deputy and insisted they give him more beer, the sheriff said.

He reportedly tried to kick and hit deputies, and when he was put into a cruiser, threw himself against the car door.

He was finally taken to jail at about 9:15 a.m., where he was booked on charges of trespassing, resisting arrest with violence and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

He was examined at the emergency room before being jailed, Nienhuis said, and cleared to be taken to jail. The sheriff added that Peters did not inform officers he had any history with illness.

Peters reportedly began showing signs he was not well. In video from his cell, Peters is seen eating food, but a while later he becomes distressed and starts punching his fist on his bed. 

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Hernando County inmate eating food before becoming distressed

Deputies take measures to subdue him, including spraying pepper spray into the cell. 

Peters defecated on himself and deputies had to get him cleaned up. They entered the cell, and by then he was already on the ground. 

Hernando County inmate suffering after being sprayed with pepper spray

During this time, Nienhuis said, "the individual did not stop resisting" during the ongoing incident, and a so-called spit hood was put on the inmate's head. 

The sheriff showed an example of a spit hood, which was a gauzelike material.

Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis displays 'spit hood' used on inmate who later died

Deputies had to pull and carry Peters out of the cell and put him in a pro-straint chair, which is when he became unresponsive as they were trying to secure him in. Deputies did begin CPR and he was taken to the hospital where he died the following day. 

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Deputies try to subdue inmate in destress

The sheriff said a medical examiner review noted there were only "superficial scrapes" on Peters' body, but no trauma injuries.

Nienhuis said deputies had tried to administer drugs to help the man "detox" from alcohol, but Peters refused. The sheriff said he believes the man refusing the drugs could have led to some of what happened.

Sheriff Nienhuis said 4,700 people are booked into the Hernando County Detention Center yearly. Many situations arise that require deputies to take actions that may not seem appropriate to the public, however, Nienhuis said those actions are necessary for safety reasons.

"We have to deal a wide variety of situations with those individuals and by-and-large we do a good job," Nienhuis said.

Correction: This story has been edited to correct the date and location of the inmate’s death as well as when he became unresponsive. The previous version also stated that deputies had to get the inmate on the ground, but the inmate was already on the ground in his cell.