MIAMI — The Florida Department of Corrections is investigating a prison beating after an inmate used a smuggled cellphone to shoot video of several guards punching an inmate who was being held on the ground.
An unnamed Lake Correctional Institution inmate in Clermont gave commentary as the beating happened. The video lasted five minutes, and inmates in the recording said that the beating had gone on for five minutes before they began recording it. The incident took place on July 8.
An inmate sent the video to his friend, Joshua Polulech, who uploaded it to YouTube.
The video shows a group of officers encircling the inmate and several threw punches while he was held on the ground. Eventually more officers came out, joining the attack.
Polulech, a former inmate at the prison, said that the inmate who recorded the video was transferred after prison officials identified him.
“These beatings happen and I wanted to get it out there because inmates really risked their lives to record this,” Polulech said. “They could be beaten like the guy in the video if they were caught. I felt that I had to post it so that they didn’t do it for nothing.”
Shantell Grace told the Associated Press on Wednesday that her brother, Otis Miller, was the inmate who was beaten. Miller, 44, weighs 140 pounds and stands 5 feet tall, she said. She said he was found with a cellphone charger and he ran after it was discovered, prompting the altercation.
Grace said prison officials refused to let her visit her brother and gave her conflicting reports on his injuries and the reason for his confinement.
“When I asked why, one person said he was high on drugs,” Grace said. “Then they later said he punched an officer. So which is it?”
Miller was transferred to the Central Florida Reception Center last Saturday, Grace said. She managed to finally see her brother Tuesday, eight days after the incident.
She said Miller did not receive medical treatment for five days until she contacted Democratic state Rep. Dianne Hart seeking help.
Grace said Miller has broken ribs and a fractured jaw.
The Florida Times Union received screenshots of a private group chat between the correction officers in which they made jokes and praised the attack.
“Lmfao. All that over a piece of charger,” one message read.
Mark Inch, secretary of Department of Florida Corrections, said in a statement that the video was “deeply disturbing” and the department is investigation. He said the officers identified in the video are no longer in contact with inmates. He said criminal charges could be filed if the department determines officers abused the prisoner or failed to report abuse.