Pinellas sheriff suspends 2 deputies for 'humiliating' inmates

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The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has issued suspensions for two deputies after a seven-month investigation into incidents involving inmates at the Pinellas County Jail back in January.

In two other, unrelated incidents that same month, deputies were fired for the way they treated prisoners. However, when asked if there would be procedural changes at the jail as a result of the string of misconduct, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said procedures were not the problem. 

"We have the procedural safeguards in place. You can't address stupid," Gualtieri said. 

This week, the sheriff's office announced 21-day suspensions for two deputies who "humiliated" inmates during an incident on Jan. 13.

The sheriff's office said Deputy Kenneth Rowe showed a broomstick to two inmates who he felt were misbehaving and ordered them up against the wall for 11 minutes. Later, Deputy Willie Jordan joined Rowe to tape signs on the inmates, essentially calling them "idiots." A stream of other inmates walk by and taunted them.

Two days before the wall-standing incident, an imate was apparently forced to do pushups and then kicked by now-former deputy James Moran because the inmate fed a cookie to a bird. The sheriff's office announced Moran's arrest and firing back in April

"We don’t have inmates do physical labor or punishment for violations of rules," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said, adding that feeding a bird was not a violation of rules.

In April, the sheriff's office also announced the firing of another deputy after an incident Jan. 8. 

The sheriff's office said surveillance video showed now-former Deputy Amy Gee body-slam a 54-year-old female inmate, whose arm was broken as a result.

As for Rowe and Jordan, whose suspensions began July 8, the sheriff said the punishment was considered harsh, adding Rowe and Jordan might have been fired if they didn't have good records to fall back on.

The sheriff said both admitted to the accusations, with Rowe saying the inmates did nothing wrong and that, "I'm losing my mind for a second here because I forgot I am not in the Army right now." 

Jordan said: "I have embarrassed the sheriff's office, my family and my faith."