The Florida Department of Corrections says that three officers involved in the brutal beating of a prisoner at Lake Correctional Institute – captured on a cellphone video by a fellow prisoner on July 8 — have been fired and arrested.
The video shows a group of corrections officers brutally beating a prisoner at the prison outside Orlando. The inmate who captured the clandestine video later passed it on to a citizen who then made it public.
In a written statement, Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch said his agency took immediate action to terminate the employees on Wednesday following the criminal charges brought against them.
“These swift disciplinary actions are a testament to our commitment to ensuring officers are held accountable when they abuse the trust of the public and those they are charged with supervising,” he said.
Tampa Democratic state Rep. Dianne Hart, who has been an advocate for inmate rights as she tours state correctional institutions, says she is happy that Secretary Inch is living up to his word that he would take quick action against those involved in the incident at Lake Correctional Institution.
“I believe there may be some other people that will probably be fired,” she said. “There were far more than three people involved in this incident.”
The three fired officials are:
Correctional Officer Hunter Lingo, who has been charged with one count of principle to malicious battery, a third-degree felony.
Correctional Officer Joshua Petersilge, who has also been charged with one count of principle to malicious battery.
And Captain Milton Gass, who has been charged with two counts of perjury and three counts of solicitation to commit the felony crime of perjury by false declaration. Both are third-degree felonies. He has been with the Department of Corrections since 2007.
Following their arrests on Wednesday, the three officers were transported to the Lake County Jail.
Inch says his department will continue to work with the Inspector General as they continue to investigate, and says the investigation is not over.
Secretary Inch says if anyone has any additional information or evidence to provide, they should contact the Department of Corrections Office of Inspector General at 850-488-9265 (which is open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) or 866-246-4412, a 24-hour recorded tip line. They can also submit information here
“Anyone found to have acted outside their authorities or the standard of our Department will be held accountable,” he said.
Also this week, the Department of Corrections fired one employee and disciplined three others who joked about committing violence on inmates at correctional institutions in Florida earlier this year. The officers were being investigated for making offensive comments on Facebook about abusing prisoners. You can read the Phoenix story here.