Society

Report: Prison Guards Locked Black Man In Scalding Shower For Two Hours, His Death Ruled 'Accidental'

| by Michael Allen
Darren Rainey.Darren Rainey.

Darren Rainey, a mentally ill black man, died after being locked in a scalding hot shower for about two hours on June 23, 2012, at the Dade Correctional Institution in Miami, but his death has reportedly been ruled "accidental" by a recent autopsy report.

The Miami Herald cites multiple law enforcement sources that said the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s autopsy report found that Rainey's causes of death included complications from heart disease, schizophrenia and “confinement” in the shower.

The autopsy reportedly said Rainey's skin appeared to be melted off, also known as “slippage,” which can be caused by long periods of exposure to water and humidity.

When the prison guards finally took Rainey out of the shower, his temperature was 102 degrees and he was dead. About 12 hours after his death, Rainey's body was still 94 degrees.

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While Rainey didn't suffer any physical burns, the autopsy reportedly said the prison guards had “no intent” to injure the 50-year-old man when they locked him in the hot shower for up to two hours.

This autopsy of Rainey's 2012 death has not been released to the public because a local investigation into the incident is still ongoing. There is also a federal investigation into Rainey's death.

“I have not reviewed the [Medical Examiner's] report, but it defies logic that the conclusion is that Darren Rainey’s death was accidental,” Howard Simon, of the Miami’s American Civil Liberties Union in Florida, told the Miami Herald.

Florida Department of Corrections spokesman McKinley Lewis said the department had not received a copy of the autopsy, but added, "Upon our receipt and evaluation of this report, the department will act swiftly in initiating all appropriate investigations and internal reviews."

Rainey was taking Haldol, a prescription drug that can raise body temperature and affect blood pressure and the heart, according to the sources who have seen the autopsy report.

Rainey reportedly defecated in his cell, refused to clean it up and was taken to a small shower that was controlled by prison guards in another room.

Harold Hempstead, an inmate/orderly in a cell below the shower, told the Miami Herald in May 2014 that Rainey cried out: “I can’t take it no more, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again."

Hempstead also said the prison disabled the shower system, which was operated from outside the shower room, soon after the incident.

“I then seen his burnt dead body naked body go about 2 feet from my cell door on a stretcher,’’ Hempstead wrote in a complaint to Department of Corrections inspector general.

Another inmate, Mark Joiner, wrote in a separate complaint that he was told by prison guards to “clean up the crime scene" before it was secured for an investigation.

“They told people that he had a heart attack,’’ an unidentified source told the newspaper.

The hot shower treatment was one of the punishments, which may also have included physical abuse and withholding food, that prison guards used on mentally ill patients, Hempstead and two unidentified sources said.

There was a video of Rainey's death, but the surveillance camera malfunctioned right after Rainey was placed in the shower, and the video that recorded the incident was inexplicably “damaged,’’ according to a report by the Department of Corrections inspector general.

Sources: Miami Herald (2) / Photo credit: Florida Dept. of Corrections Media Handout via Miami Herald