PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A Pinellas County Sheriff Office detention deputy has been fired after he was arrested on a battery charge involving an inmate at the county jail.

  • Detention deputy fired, arrested on battery charge
  • Incident occurred after inmate tossed a cookie to a bird
  • Deputy forced inmate to do push-ups, kicked him when he couldn't finish

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri held a news conference Tuesday morning releasing info on the case. 

Gualtieri said the incident occurred January 11 after inmate Mario Christo, who was on kitchen duty, tossed a piece of cookie from the trash to a bird. 

According to Gualtieri, Deputy James Moran, who was supervising Christo and two other inmates, ordered Christo to do 50 push-ups and then kicked him in the ribs when he couldn't finish. 

During the news conference, Gualtieri said the Sheriff's Office does not implement push-ups or any physical labor as punishment. 

"There is no place for abuse of the inmates," Gualtieri said. 

Gualtieri said it was one of the stupidest things he's seen in office.

"I'm kind of speechless on it because it is so ridiculous," he said.

The sheriff said order the pushups alone was cause for suspension. But because the deputy went so far as to kick Christo, that made it a crime.

"For most people, anybody that's got any dose of common sense, reality perspective, it's no big deal. Whatever. But apparently, all of those things that I just described, Deputy James Moran doesn't have," he said.

Gualtieri said that Christo did nothing wrong and that he did not initially come forward out of fear of retaliation.  

Another deputy who was also supervising the inmates is being questioned for not stopping the incident or reporting it.