It’s 4:20 a.m. and Robert Leutzinger is vomiting blood on the floor of his jail cell.
The two detention deputies who were supposed to be watching him said they didn’t notice and didn’t call for medical help for hours.
Surveillance video shows the deputies watching Netflix.
Content warning: This story contains graphic imagery and a brief mention of suicidal thoughts. If you need help, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
Leutzinger told 10 Investigates reporter Jenna Bourne he thought he was going to die.
“Oh my God, these people don’t give a **** about me,” Leutzinger said. “I said, well, this is it.”
They aren’t the only Pinellas County detention deputies caught distracted on the job. 10 Investigates found surveillance video showing another detention deputy reading “Harry Potter” on a Kindle.
And another was caught on camera covering the windows behind him with garbage bags before pulling up YouTube, TikTok and Facebook videos on the computer.
All four detention deputies kept their jobs.
Watching Netflix while a man vomits blood:
“It’s kind of like a fire.”
Leutzinger had never seen the surveillance video of his medical emergency inside the Pinellas County Jail until 10 Investigates showed it to him.
Leutzinger saw himself leaning over his cot and vomiting blood onto the floor of his jail cell.
“You know how your stomach feels when you feel like it’s bleeding down there?” Leutzinger said. “It’s kind of like a fire. And it just burnt real bad. And you feel this in your throat. And the next thing you know you’re just, oof.”
It was Nov. 18, 2021, and Leutzinger was in the Pinellas County Jail because he had a warrant out for having an open container of alcohol and marijuana.
Although the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office blacked out 358 pages of the internal investigation report, we can still piece together what happened from the records we did get.
Surveillance video shows Detention Deputies Dante Ginn-Davis and Zachary McDevitt watching Netflix for what the sheriff’s office described as the “majority” of their shift.
“Ultimately, I knew it was wrong,” McDevitt told investigators with the agency’s Professional Standards Bureau.
While watching “Red Notice,” the deputies told internal investigators what they didn’t notice was the growing pool of blood in Leutzinger’s cell.
Not on their live surveillance camera feeds that they had up on the same screen as Netflix. Not during their in-person well-being checks every 15 minutes.
The internal investigation found that it wasn’t until the next shift came in that anyone noticed the pool of blood.
Pinellas County Jail Nurse Christine Carter, who eventually evaluated Leutzinger, told the agency’s Professional Standards Bureau that Leutzinger may have been experiencing a gastrointestinal bleed, which could have been deadly.
Leutzinger was taken to the hospital 3 hours and 51 minutes after he started vomiting.
The jail pod where Leutzinger was housed is for people who need constant supervision.
“2H4 consists of suicide risks, close observation, psych inmates, and protective custody,” Ginn-Davis described to the PCSO Professional Standards Bureau during a recorded interview.
“I told them I wanted – I felt like killing myself,” Leutzinger said.
He told 10 Investigates he’s in a better mental state now.
During an internal affairs interview, Ginn-Davis told his supervisor he watched Netflix during his shift about once a week.
Sheriff’s office documents show it disciplined Ginn-Davis and McDevitt with a 40-hour suspension.
10 Investigates asked Chief Cornita Riley to weigh in on that discipline because she’s an expert on Florida jails. She’s the former Chief of Orange County Corrections and was awarded Jail Administrator of the Year in 2018 by the American Jail Association.
“The 40-hour suspension, number one, is a significant discipline in the world of corrections,” Riley said. “Normally, unless you have repeat offenses for something, you don’t get to a 40-hour suspension – unless the initial incident is so egregious that you have to do that level of discipline.”
The month after Ginn-Davis and McDevitt got caught, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Department of Detention and Corrections Commander Colonel Paul Carey sent an email to the whole department.
The Dec. 10, 2021 email references “an increase in instances involving Department of Detention and Corrections (DDC) members watching movies on agency computers while on duty… [which] has resulted in serious incidents being unaddressed or flat out missed.”
Carey’s email banned accessing “television and movie streaming services while on duty” including “YouTube and other similar websites that host online video sharing.”
“As an administrator, there are some things that you don’t feel you have to just spell out, sometimes, in black and white for people – such as, the reaction to now putting out an email, a memo, a directive advising that you can’t stream video when you’re on your post. One would think that you would not have to now put that in a directive because that goes without saying,” Riley said.
Reading “Harry Potter”:
Detention deputy admits to bringing a Wi-Fi-enabled Kindle to work.
But Carey’s email didn’t stop the distractions.
The very next month, in January 2022, Deputy Adam Vincent was supposed to be watching people serving jail time while they were cleaning.
He can be seen on surveillance video using an e-reader.
“It was one of the ‘Harry Potter’ books,” Vincent said during the internal investigation.
During that same recorded interview, he admitted that he brought a Kindle with Wi-Fi capabilities into the jail, even though the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office banned outside electronic devices in secure areas of the jail back in 2017 over safety and security concerns.
“You told [a lieutenant], quote, ‘I thought since we couldn’t stream videos anymore, I would read on my Kindle.’ End quote. Is this an accurate statement?” PCSO Professional Standards Bureau Sergeant Daniel Love asked Vincent during a recorded interview.
“I believe so, yes,” replied Vincent in the recording.
Surveillance video showed Vincent left his device alone with a person he was supposed to be watching.
“While utilizing an electronic device, could it be a potential safety issue for yourself, other deputies, and inmates, as well?” Sergeant Love asked Deputy Vincent.
“Yes,” responded Deputy Vincent in the recorded interview. “I could be distracted, be overpowered by inmates that were in the unit.”
Like Deputies McDevitt and Ginn-Davis, sheriff’s office records show Deputy Vincent got a 40-hour suspension.
Watching YouTube, TikTok and Facebook videos:
A computer log showed sites were accessed 286 times.
One month later and right next door at the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center, surveillance video showed Deputy Conner Davis cutting up garbage bags and taping them over the windows behind a desk, then pulling up YouTube, TikTok and Facebook videos.
“Yeah, I did, I screwed up,” Davis said during a recorded interview. “It looks really bad, my intentions – I’m not trying to make excuses up. It just looks bad. It does.”
Davis said he’d covered the windows to protect his privacy while on the computer.
The kids and teens in the area he was assigned to watch need extra supervision, including in-person checks every 10 minutes.
“Those are more of our high-risk inmates,” Davis described to the Administrative Review Board. “They’re more prone to have maybe some psych issues or anything that they – like, fighting with people a lot.”
A review of Davis’ computer log found that he accessed YouTube, TikTok and Facebook 286 times during his shift – that’s an average of about 28 times every hour.
“I was getting bored in these 10-minute checks by myself,” Deputy Davis told the Administrative Review Board.
“During that 10 minutes, I mean, can you just tell me a couple of things that could happen? You know, you’re focused on your screen there… What could be going on with those inmates that you’re not – you could miss?” Carey asked.
“I could miss a lot. They could hurt themselves. I mean, anything, really. That’s a mistake that could turn bad,” Davis replied.
Sheriff’s office records show Davis got a 40-hour suspension.
The sheriff’s response:
Our interview requests were turned down, but a statement was provided.
10 Investigates wants to talk to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office about these distractions on the job. We tried.
But the agency’s communications office told us Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Carey, and all four deputies turned down our interview requests.
The sheriff sent an emailed statement that said:
“We have written policies that prohibit all personnel from improperly using computers, electronics and all devices. The majority of our almost 3,000 employees adhere to the polices [sic] and when the isolated case occurs where someone violates the policy they are appropriately disciplined.”
We asked Riley to weigh in on the bigger picture.
“When you look at the size of the Pinellas County Jail, the number of staff, and the number of inmates that they work with on a daily basis and you put it into perspective, these four ‘incidents,’ if you will, OK, it’s miniscule in terms of the bigger picture of what they do,” she said.
The sheriff’s office hasn’t answered our questions about whether it’s taken any further steps to prevent distractions this year, like blocking video streaming websites on jail computers.
“Some jails have done that, where you don’t have access to certain sites,” said Riley said. “Within the Orange County Jail, we limited access to an open Internet… You put things in place, sometimes, to even help protect people from themselves. And that’s just the honest truth.”
Leutzinger said he hopes no one else has to go through the fear and pain he experienced in a Pinellas County Jail cell.
We asked him what he wants people to know about his experience there.
“The only thing I could tell them is to stay the hell out of there,” Leutzinger said.