Florida deputy fired, arrested for kicking inmate who tossed cookie to bird

A Florida detention deputy was fired and arrested for battery after kicking an inmate who tossed a cookie to a bird, WTVT reported.

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According to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Deputy James Willis Moran, 57, faces a misdemeanor charge of battery, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The six-year veteran of the department was arrested Tuesday and booked into the Pinellas County Jail, where he later posted $500 bond. A second deputy, who witnessed the incident, is under investigation for not reporting it, WTVT reported.

The inmate, Mario Christo, 31, filed a complaint last week after he was released from jail after serving a 364-day sentence for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, WTVT reported.

At a news conference Tuesday, Gualtieri said Moran was assigned to the kitchen work crew at the Pinellas County Jail on Jan. 11. Christo told deputies he was emptying the trash when he found a cookie in the waste bin and threw it to a bird sitting on top of the dumpster, WTVT reported.

According to Gualtieri, the toss did not violate any rules, according to the Times. Nevertheless, Moran made Christo do 50 push-ups and then kicked the inmate in the ribs when he stopped after 20, BayNews 9 reported. The alleged incident was caught on a surveillance camera inside the jail, and Gualtieri released the video during the news conference.

"I'm kind of speechless on it because it is so ridiculous," the sheriff said at Tuesday’s news conference. "Everybody knows, we don't treat people this way.

"For most people -- anyone who's got any dose of common sense, reality, perspective -- it's no big deal. Whatever. The inmate fed a cookie that was going into the dumpster to a bird," Gualtieri said. "But apparently all those things I just described, Deputy James Moran doesn't have.”

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