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Oldsmar parents call attention to 'forceful' arrest of teenager

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office reviewing incident
teen arrested.png
Posted at 5:48 PM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 05:39:21-04

OLDSMAR, Fla.  — A group of Oldsmar moms are upset and calling on the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office to take action after they say two deputies used excessive force during a teen’s arrest on Saturday.

Videos taken by the teen’s friends show two deputies take the teen off his bike. Parents said it also shows the deputies wrestle the boy (who was between ages 12 and 15) to the ground. The videos did not capture what led up to those moments.

Jennifer Retcho’s son showed her the videos.

“To throw a child on the floor like that is totally uncalled for,” she said. “I was completely disgusted when I saw that video.”

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said deputies were originally called to St. Petersburg Drive and Tampa Road in Oldsmar, where they said 30 teens were riding their bicycles on Tampa Road. Deputies said none of the juveniles were using the bike lanes on Tampa Road.

Deputies told ABC Action News that they tried to make contact with the teens, but they kept going. The deputies later caught up with some of the teens a few blocks away at State Street and Lee Street. They said the arrested teen “refused to listen to the deputies and physically resisted the deputies.” Deputies took him into custody. Yet, parents tell ABC Action News they’re mad about how the situation was handled.

“Physically putting his hands on a child for riding his bike? In front of 25 other kids? It’s inexcusable,” said Randa Pusateri. Her son was also part of the bicycle riding group.

Shara Rutledge’s son witnessed the encounter between deputies and the teen.

“My son came home and was very upset about it and was asking me how am I supposed to trust the cops when I see them treating my friends like this? It was very forceful, and it is a child at the end of the day,” she added.

The teen is not injured, but the moms worry if they don’t speak up, it could happen again.

“He’s a child. He’s not a man. There was nothing involved with criminal activity. These kids were riding bicycles,” Retcho elaborated.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office tells ABC Action News that they are reviewing the case. The concerned Oldsmar parents hope it will lead to changes.

“At the very least, there is accountability and changes need to be made,” Pusateri explained.