Investigation launched after YouTube video captures UOF incident at Fla. prison
The five-minute video was filmed July 8 though a window screen by an unidentified inmate
By Stephen Hudak
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — A video posted Saturday on YouTube appears to show a group of officers at the Lake Correctional Institution near Clermont beating an inmate on the prison’s lawn.
The five-minute video, filmed July 8 though a window screen by an unidentified inmate, led Mark Inch, the newly appointed secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections, to condemn the violence in a statement Saturday night. Inch said prison staff who were involved could face criminal charges.
The inmate who shot the secret footage narrated the incident and added, “This is why we’re in fear of our life.”
A story about the video was first reported by the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.
“This video is deeply disturbing. We have zero tolerance for officer abuse or misconduct for any reason,” said Inch, a retired U.S. Army major general who retired in May 2018 as director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and assumed his current post in January. “The actions of these individuals will not be tolerated. Our Office of Inspector General has launched an immediate investigation.”
Inch said officers involved in the incident “have been taken out of contact with inmates and will not be allowed to return to full duty until a thorough investigation has been completed. Those found participating in any level of abuse or failing to properly report abuse will be subject to administrative and criminal charges.”
He said the inmate will be relocated to a “different facility.” He did not identify the inmate involved in the incident.
State Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, a freshman Democrat lawmaker from Orlando, also took notice of the video, saying it "speaks to a much larger systematic problem we face in our state prisons."
“Stories of sexual assault and violence perpetrated by state correctional officers are all too common,” she told the Orlando Sentinel. “Our Legislative Office will be visiting state prisons across the state — unannounced— in an effort to understand the source of these problems and eliminate abuse.”
Lake Correctional, located on U.S. Highway 27 about 30 miles west of Orlando, houses about 1,100 male inmates.
Two unidentified narrators of the video named the inmate as Otis Miller, who entered the prison system in 2002.
“As y’all can see, they’re beating him up. For what reason, I don’t know," one said. “They’re steady beatin’ him.”
He identified some of the officers by rank and name.
He feared the officers would kill Miller.
According to the Department of Corrections’ website, Miller, 43, is serving a 30-year sentence for a series of crimes, including battery on a law-enforcement office; obstructing a criminal investigation; and selling cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school.
©2019 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)