Prosecutors on Tuesday accused a South Florida prison colonel with wrongfully pepper spraying an inmate, then forcing an underling to create a false report about the incident.
Everglades Correctional Institution Colonel Patrick Riggins was charged with misdemeanor battery on a detainee and felony official misconduct for the alleged attack on inmate Mazzard McMillan in July 2017.
That day, McMillan was one of several inmates who were told to get on the floor of the facility in West Miami-Dade. According to prosecutors, surveillance video showed McMillan starting to comply when Riggins "sprayed him with pepper spray without provocation or justification."
The footage released on Tuesday shows Riggins casually spray McMillan, who crumpled to the ground and writhed in pain. The orange blast of the spray remained visible on the wall.
Riggins later ordered a captain, Lindsay Bethel, to create a "false incident report" to help cover up the use of force, prosecutors said in a press release. The case was investigated by the Department of Corrections' Inspector General's office.
"That video really cinched his fate," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.
Florida's prison system has been under intense scrutiny in recent years, with allegations of inmate abuse surfacing across the state. The corrections system has also been criticized for inmate deaths — at least 145 prisoners have died this year of various causes, a startling number that has drawn criticism from justice-reform advocates.