A detention deputy has been arrested and charged with child abuse after deputies say he choked a 16-year-old inmate.
Norman Grant, 45, of Port Richey, was arrested Friday. The incident happened June 20 at the Land O' Lakes jail, and the sheriff's office started an investigation after it was reported.
According to a sheriff's office report, the teen was banging his head against a cell door, so he was placed in a restraint chair. The teen loosened the straps on the chair with his legs, and Grant re-tightened them. The inmate told Grant the restraints were too tight and pushed his legs out to stop him from making them tighter.
Grant then grabbed the inmate's neck and choked him until he couldn't breathe, the report said. The inmate said Grant whispered: "Stop or I'll break your neck." The inmate told a mental health counselor at the jail what happened, and she said she saw an abrasion on his chin and redness on his neck.
The teenager's name was not released because of his age.
Sheriff Chris Nocco said Grant never reported the incident, and he was placed on administrative leave after the investigation started. He said Grant wouldn't speak to police officers and asked for an attorney when he was arrested.
The incident was recorded on a surveillance video. According to the report, the camera shows the deputy grabbing the inmate's neck and squeezing it.
"The video was clear to the actions that he took, which were totally inappropriate," Nocco said during a press conference.
He said the department fired Grant on Friday.
"He does not represent the 1,300 employees of the Pasco Sheriff's Office," he said. "His actions were criminal, and he's no longer with us."
Grant was investigated by the sheriff's internal affairs office in 2011 and 2012 after two inmates said he used excessive force. Grant was cleared in both cases.
Nocco said the sheriff's office never had clear evidence to show what happened in those cases. The department plans to review the previous accusations.
"Maybe it shows along the way. this deputy probably should've never worn a badge," Nocco said.
Grant received a meritorious service medal for courage from the sheriff's department in April 2012. According to a video from the award ceremony, the medal was for subduing and physically restraining an inmate who became violent.
Nocco said that he wants residents to trust the sheriff's office, and he stressed that he doesn't think Grant's actions are reflective of the entire department.
"We base our organization off of discipline, professionalism, and accountability," he said. "Every day, we make sure the citizens trust us...we want them to realize we took swift and immediate action to ensure their trust."