Ronald Connor, 24, Christopher Rolon, 29, and Kirk Walton, 34, were arrested Thursday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the agency said. They were booked on second-degree murder, conspiracy, aggravated abuse and other charges, online records from the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation show.
All were denied bond on the murder charge, records show. Walton’s attorney, David Donet Jr., declined to comment Friday; it’s not clear if the others have attorneys. A fourth correction officer is still at large, the state law enforcement agency stated in a news release.
Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, whose office will prosecute the case, is expected to release more information about it Friday afternoon.
The case comes as use of force by law enforcement
nationwide is under scrutiny following other in-custody deaths
The incident that led to Thursday’s arrests unfolded on the morning of February 14, when the inmate was scheduled to be transferred from the Dade Correctional Institution to another facility, the agency said. Before being taken from his cell in the mental health unit, he reportedly threw urine on an officer.
Corrections officers then put him in handcuffs and took him from his cell, the agency said. After that, “even though he was in handcuffs and compliant with officer commands, agents say the officers began to beat him,” it said.
“The inmate was beaten so badly he had to be carried to the transport van,” the agency said, adding he was placed in a secure compartment alone.
En route to the other facility, the van stopped in Ocala, Florida, and the prisoner was found dead, lying on a bench inside the van, said the agency, which did not disclose the inmate’s name.
His cause of death was a punctured lung that led to internal bleeding, a medical examiner ruled, adding the man had injuries to his face and torso consistent with being beaten, the agency stated.
“Staff misconduct, abuse or criminal behavior have no place in Florida’s correctional system,” Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. “Individuals who are sentenced to incarceration by our criminal courts have lost their freedom but not their basic rights. Inmates should not be subject to forms of ‘back alley’ justice which are actions in violation of Florida law.”
The staff involved in the case failed, “and as an agency we will not stand for this,” Florida Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon said in a statement.
His department “is committed to providing a safe and professional environment for inmates and offenders,” Dixon said. “All inmates, regardless of their crimes have a right to serve their time free from victimization and abuse.”