“The action of the inmate did not warrant use of force in this case,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson.

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — Walton County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Michael Blizzard was charged with misdemeanor battery following an incident with an inmate over the weekend at the Walton County Jail.

An inmate was being escorted from the medical unit to housing by detention deputies at approximately 3 p.m. Sunday when he threw his personal belongings bag into the open office of Lt. Blizzard. Deputies pinned the inmate up against the wall to move his handcuffs from the front of his body to the back. At that time, Blizzard pulled the inmate into his office and struck him several times with a closed fist in the back of the head and kneed him in the abdomen.

After the initial blows, the deputies removed the victim from the office, at which point he made a remark toward Blizzard.

According to WCSO officials, Blizzard then pulled the inmate back into his office a second time and put his hands around his throat. The inmate was then brought to booking and put into a cell.

Deputies who witnessed the incident came forward to command staff with their concerns, and a criminal investigation was immediately launched. After interviews by investigators with the Criminal Investigations Bureau, Blizzard was subsequently charged with misdemeanor battery.

“The action of the inmate did not warrant use of force in this case,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “Although there were no visible injuries to the inmate, we have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior and as such he has been terminated. We commend the deputies who came forward to report it. It was a very difficult situation they were put in.”

Blizzard was arrested and booked into the Walton County Jail on Monday afternoon and issued his termination notice.

"Walton County Sheriff’s Office does not typically disseminate press releases regarding misdemeanor offenses," said a statement from WCSO. "However, given the fact Blizzard was in the performance of his duties when this crime occurred, we have decided to release this information as the arresting agency, including a mug shot, to remain transparent to the citizens we serve.

“Blizzard’s actions do not reflect the dedicated men and women of our organization and I want to be clear we will not tolerate any abuse of the public’s trust,” said Sheriff Adkinson.