Two corrections officers have been arrested after allegedly spraying an inmate in the face with chemicals and locking him in a supply closet, still covered in toxic residue as he begged to be let out, documents show.
READ MORE: Deadly abuse in Florida’s prisons
The officers, guards at Liberty Correctional Institution in Florida’s Panhandle, allegedly punished the inmate after he refused to return to a dorm. The inmate was asking to be placed in protective custody because he said his cellmate was threatening to harm him.
Capt. Steven Cloud and Sgt. Jeffery Davis allegedly laughed at the inmate and ordered him to return to the dorm. When he refused, the two officers took him to a supply closet, where he was strip-searched. Davis then reached around and sprayed him in the face with a chemical agent, the report said. When the inmate turned around to avoid the spray, Davis sprayed him again, “in the ear,’’ the report said.
Cloud allegedly told the inmate to “wear it’’ for at least 15 minutes, then left him in the closet unhandcuffed, the arrest papers said. It’s not clear how long he was begging for help before he was let out.
The officers then fabricated a report, saying that the inmate was sprayed because he had been aggressive toward them, the arrest affidavit said. Cloud was charged with official misconduct and submitting a false report; Davis was charged with malicious battery, official misconduct and filing a false report.
The inmate’s name was redacted from the arrest report by the Florida Department of Corrections.
FDC Secretary Julie Jones had praise for her agency: “The Department has zero tolerance for mistreatment of inmates under our supervision. I commend our Office of Inspector General for their investigation which led to the arrest of these former officers.”
READ MORE: Guards gassed inmate to death, suit says
Last year, a federal civil rights lawsuit was filed against the Florida Department of Corrections in connection with the gassing death of a 27-year-old prisoner at Franklin Correctional Institution.
Randall Jordan-Aparo, who was serving time for credit card fraud, was subjected to 600 grams of chemical agents in a confined space, well over lethal levels, according to an investigation by the Miami Herald in 2014.
The suit, brought on behalf of Jordan-Aparo’s 12-year-old daughter, alleges that the corrections officers killed Jordan-Aparo and that the officers, nurses, doctors and warden — all named in the suit — conspired to cover up his death by removing evidence, doctoring reports and threatening witnesses.
That lawsuit is among a series of legal actions filed against the agency involving inmates who died or were seriously injured, as a result of mistreatment by corrections officers or medical staff or both. The lawsuits claim that the agency has a history of corruption that involves destroying and concocting evidence to hide the suspicious deaths of Florida prisoners.