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Tampa demands justice for Josiah, community control of the police

By Bill Aiman |
July 20, 2020
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Tampa protest against police crimes.
Tampa protest against police crimes. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tampa, FL – On July 18, members of the Tampa community rallied to demand justice for Josiah Pinner and community control of the police. Josiah Pinner was a 15-year-old who was struck and killed by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputy Philip Montesi, who was going 21 miles per hour over the speed limit in a residential area. The rally was called by the Tampa Bay Community Action Committee (TBCAC).

Pinner and his friend were crossing the road January 11, 2019 shortly after the sun went down when Montesi was responding to a non-emergency call. Montesi swerved to avoid them but ultimately struck Pinner. Montesi continued driving before turning around but it was too late. Montesi only received a five-day suspension and a driving class for the killing of Josiah.

Montesi has a number of traffic violations on his record including clipping a pedestrian while the deputy was speeding and distracted by using his in-vehicle computer. Despite Montesi’s record of misconduct and incompetence, State Attorney Andrew Warren declined to press charges on Montesi at the time, stating that no criminal activity took place and no laws were broken.

Chants at the rally included, “HCSO is corrupt, five days is not enough!” and “Serve and protect, not swerve and neglect!”

“Even though that driver, Deputy Montesi, fled the scene speeding, made no immediate call for help, and has a history of vehicle-related incidents, there's been no arrests or charges filed,” said Joanne Rojas, the mother of Josiah Pinner. “Just a few days suspension and back on the job, the same day my son was buried - all because he had a license, badge and a gun.”

In addition to demanding justice being served to Deputy Montesi, the family and TBCAC are demanding more street lights, crosswalks and traffic calming measures to prevent future tragedies.

“A couple of years ago, there was a pedestrian accident on Bayshore Boulevard, in the nicest part of town. The speed limit was immediately reduced and crosswalks were installed a couple weeks after,” noted TBCAC member Will Blake. “Meanwhile in Josiah's case, in a working class residential area, there has been no speed limit reduction, no crosswalks and no street lights installed despite almost two years of the Pinner and Rojas family demanding it.”

TBCAC also called for the creation of a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) that would give the community true control over the police.

“The officer had prior incidents of speeding and reckless driving. HCSO and the city of Tampa failed the Pinner family by not holding the cop accountable and allowing him to keep serving after a trend of poor driving resulted in the death of a child,” said TBCAC member David Jones. “We need a CPAC here in Tampa to give the family justice and prevent more of these cases from happening.”