NewsPinellas County


Death of man injured in Pinellas deputies' custody ruled accidental

Posted at 9:26 PM, Oct 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-31 21:26:06-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- The death of a man who was hurt from an incident involving Pinellas County deputies is being called an excusable homicide, after a state attorney's office investigation.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says on August 18th deputies responded to a 9-1-1 call from a man claiming he was assaulted.

On the way to the scene, deputies spotted a man fitting the suspect’s description.

Sergeant Noble Katzer stopped to speak to the potential suspect, 31-year-old Baudilio Morales-Velasquez, who did not speak English.

Katzer says while checking his identification, Velasquez ran off.

The sheriff says Velasquez ran to a home at the Capris Mobile Home Park in Clearwater and was yanking on the door, trying to forcefully enter the home. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says Katzer thought he was breaking into the home and tased Velasquez to stop him, then Velasquez and fell and hit his head.

"Sgt. Katzer didn’t do anything wrong. What are you supposed to do when somebody runs from you. What are you supposed to do say bye? When somebody was again, a suspect when there’s blood on the ground and somebody claims they’ve been injured and they fit the description to a T. What are we supposed to do just let them go?" said Gualtieri.

The sergeant used his taser three more times because Velasquez continued to resist arrest. When back-up arrived they realized Velasquez was injured and he was taken to the hospital where he later died.

Later deputies learned that the home Velasquez was trying to enter was his own home. The sheriff says Velasquez likely ran because he was in the country illegally. It was also later found out that the man who made the initial 9-1-1 call lied about the assault.

"The circumstances lined up just horrifically, and we ended up with a very tragic situation because of it," said Gualtieri.

The state attorney's office investigation calls the death accidental and an excusable homicide.

The man who made the false 911 call, Baudillo Mendez-Vasquez, is now charged with a felony.