On June 23, 2012, Florida Department of Corrections officers locked a 50-year-old mentally ill inmate into a shower with scalding water as punishment for defecating inside his cell at the Dade Correctional Institute in South Florida, leaving him inside for up to an hour until he died, according to a fellow inmate who heard the man’s screams of pain and agony from inside his prison cell.
But nearly two years later, the Miami-Dade medical examiner has yet to conduct an autopsy, the Miami-Dade Police Department has yet to charge anybody and the Florida Department of Corrections has closed it’s “investigation” into the matter.
And the security camera that video recorded guards forcing inmate Darren Rainey into the shower that night was somehow “damaged” minutes later, therefore not capturing the sadistic murder.
The inspector general’s report said that the video camera in the shower area showed DOC officer Roland Clarke place Rainey in the shower at 7:38 p.m.
Hempstead said the shower had sufficient room for an inmate to avoid a direct hit from the spray, but that the extreme heat would eventually make the air unbreathable as the scalding water lapped at inmates’ feet.
Hempstead wrote that he and other inmates, whose cells are directly below the shower, began hearing Rainey’s screams about 8:55 p.m. It went on for about 30 minutes before it sounded like he fell to the shower floor, he said in his complaint.
The DOC inspector general’s report said Clarke found Rainey dead at 9:30 p.m. and called for medical assistance.
“I then seen [sic] his burnt dead body naked body go about two feet from my cell door on a stretcher,’’ Hempstead wrote.
Miami-Dade homicide investigators were called to the prison.
But another inmate, a convicted murderer named Mark Joiner, wrote in a letter to the inspector general that he was ordered to “clean up the crime scene’’ prior to the area being secured.
Early in the week after the incident, maintenance workers at the prison disabled the plumbing that fed the shower, Hempstead told the Herald in an interview at the prison.
Despite all his written complaints, Hempstead was never interviewed by anyone from the prison system, he said. Another inmate was spoken to, according to the report. That’s presumably Joiner, although the DOC will not divulge the name. The Herald is waiting for a transcript of that interview, which DOC officials said would be redacted of any information pertaining to an open criminal investigation.
As for the video camera in the shower area, the inspector general’s report noted that it malfunctioned right after Clarke put Rainey in the shower. As a result, the disc that may have recorded what happened was “damaged,’’ the report said.
The only reason this story is getting attention is because inmate Harold Hempstead, who has been serving decades behind bars for burglary, has filed numerous complaints with the DOC inspector general, alleging routine physical and sexual abuse by the guards, including regularly forcing inmates into scalding showers as well as forcing black and white inmates to fight each other as the guards placed bets.
But then the guards started retaliating against Hempstead for speaking the truth:
After Hempstead was interviewed at the prison by a Herald journalist on April 14, Miami-Dade homicide investigators also paid him a visit to interview him about the two-year-old case, he wrote in a letter emailed to Gov. Rick Scott last week through a family member.
According to the letter, three corrections officers, including a sergeant, responded to the visits by threatening to set him up with false disciplinary reports and to place him in solitary confinement if he didn’t stop talking to the media and police.
He said he feared for his safety and wanted to be relocated to a different prison.
Last week, the Herald sought clearance to speak with Hempstead in the prison a second time after receiving a letter from him authorizing the return visit.
Jessica Carey, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections, responded that Hempstead “had a custody classification which prohibits interviews at this time.’’