An 18-year-old inmate — imprisoned on burglary charges — was repeatedly sprayed in the face with chemical agents by a corrections officer at Lake City Correctional Institution, who was arrested Tuesday.
The officer, Adrian Hill, is accused of concocting a lie to justify spraying Phillip Alderman Jr., a 5-foot-8 inmate serving a four-year term for burglary. Hill claimed that he sprayed the inmate because the prisoner refused to return to his cell, but the compound’s security video showed that the inmate complied with the officer’s orders and Hill sprayed him anyway.
Afterward, Hill grabbed Alderman by his shirt, dragged him several feet, then left him cringing on his hands and knees, the arrest affidavit said.
Hill surrendered to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday. He has been fired from the agency.
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The incident happened July 23. The investigation, by the Florida Department of Corrections’ inspector general, is continuing. The inmate’s condition has not been released.
“The Department of Corrections has zero tolerance for those who misuse the responsibility inherent to their positions as stewards of our state’s inmates,’’ DOC Secretary Julie Jones said in a news release.
In May, two corrections officers fabricated reports and cleaned up bloody evidence to cover up the assault of an inmate at Columbia Correctional Institution, also in Lake City.
The officers, Sgt. Christopher Michael Jernigan, 37, and Officer Donald Dwight Sims Jr., 21, were arrested on charges that they beat a 41-year-old handcuffed inmate who had allegedly “disrespected” them. They left him in a bloody heap in his cell for “several hours” before he fell unconscious and was taken to the hospital, authorities said.
When questioned by investigators afterward, the officers claimed that inmate Shurick Lewis had injured himself by falling off his bunk.
Earlier this month, a corrections officer and a former prison guard were arrested for attacking an inmate at Union Correctional Institution, also in Central Florida. Officer Justin Clemons and former correctional officer Cody Gabbard were also charged with falsifying records and battery in that beating.
The arrests occurred as the agency has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of a record number of inmate deaths and a doubling in reports involving the use of force.