A medical examiner in Florida has reportedly ruled the grisly 2012 death of an inmate at the Dade Correctional Institution an accident. In the wake of the news, a civil rights group has called for a federal inquiry into Florida's prison service.
Darren Rainey, age 50 at the time of his death, was reportedly locked inside a small shower cubicle by two correctional officers, who proceeded to turn up the heat inside the cell until it was scalding. Rainey was locked inside for two hours.
Other inmates reported hearing his screams while he was trapped inside, while another inmate claimed he was forced by the correctional officers to scrape off Rainey's burnt-off flesh from the floor, The Guardian reports.
The medical examiner's office reportedly denied this entire version of events in the autopsy report released during the week of Jan. 17.
The autopsy report stated Rainey died from complications of schizophrenia, heart disease and "confinement" in June 2012, according to multiple law enforcement sources who spoke with The Miami Herald. The report itself remains private, because the investigation into Rainey's is ongoing.
Additionally, the report stated Rainey had suffered no burns anywhere, that there was no evidence the shower he was trapped in had been "excessively" hot, and that the two officers had no intent to harm Rainey when they kept him in the shower for two hours.
Howard Simon, the ACLU's executive director in Florida, told The Herald that the conclusions of the medical examiner were "logic-defying" and said the ridiculous assertions made in the autopsy report showed why the federal government needs to be involved in the investigation.
Harold Hempstead, the inmate-orderly who reportedly heard Rainey's screams from the shower, said there were several showers closer to Rainey's cell, but the corrections officers purposely put Rainey into a shower further away because it had outside controls, thereby showing their malicious intent.
“Obviously his life was of no value because he was a black, poor, mentally disabled, Muslim prisoner,” Hempstead said in a prison interview, according to the Herald. “The decision shows that black lives don’t matter.”
The corrections officers may still be charged with crimes. A federal investigation into Rainey's death is ongoing.