PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - A Pinellas County detention deputy was fired Friday for using excessive force on an inmate at the Pinellas County Jail and then lying about it. Elizabeth Kretzer, 40, has worked for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office since October 1999.
The incident, partially captured on surveillance video, happened in December. According to the sheriff's office, it started after Kretzer believed a female inmate was trying to collect an extra breakfast tray. Kretzer and the inmate began to argue and the inmate "flipped her off." Kretzer made the inmate leave the housing unit.
Video shows Kretzer challenging the inmate to do it again. When the inmate accepts the challenge and repeats the gesture, you can see Kretzer clearly yanking the inmate by her sweatshirt out of the cell and down the corridor into an off-camera interview room. According to investigators, the action was done with sufficient enough force, the inmate bounced off the detention deputy's body.
In the interview room, that's where Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said things got much worse.
"Unfortunately and sadly, she slapped the inmate on the side of the head. It was unprovoked and there was no reason for it to happen," Gualtieri said.
An internal affairs investigation revealed she then lied about it, falsely claiming in her report that the inmate initially grabbed her.
As a result of the internal affairs investigation, Kretzer was terminated Friday.
"I was very surprised and very disappointed," Gualtieri said. "Unfortunately, every once in awhile when you have 3,000 people somebody loses their way and this is a case of that having occurred."
According to Gualtieri, Kretzer does have prior allegations of inappropriate contact with inmates on her record. However, he says none of those were ever substantiated.
When ABC Action News went to her apartment Friday evening, no one answered.
Criminal charges are being investigated and will be referred to the State Attorney's Office for review.