Grand Jury Presentment - Inmate Death (Walker), Charlotte County FL, 2015
Download original document:
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE TWENTIETH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FLORIDA PRESENTMENT OF THE CHARLOTTE COUNTY GRAND JURY CONVENED MAY 27, 2015 ************************************************************-****** REGARDING THE DEATH OF MATTHEW WALKER WHILE IN THE CUSTODY OF THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, CHARLOTTE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION *******************************************************-*********** Legal Advisors to the Grand Jury on behalf of STEPHEN B. RUSSELL, State Attorney, Twentieth Judicial Circuit ofFlorida in and for Charlotte County: AMIRAD.FOX Chief Assistant State Attorney RICHARD J. MONTECALVO Assistant State Attorney SHANNON L.DOOLITY Assistant State Attorney FILED June 16, 2015 A. The Location of the Use ofForce Incident Charlotte Correctional Institution (CCI) is a prison facility under the control ofthe Florida Department ofCorrections. It is located in DOC Region Three and maintains one (1) open bay and six (6) cell housing units. CCI maintains a medical dormitory and a psychiatric dormitory inside ofthe compound fence. CCI houses inmates ofvarying custody grades. Prior to 2012, CCI housed only Close Management grade inmates, those who must be maintained within an armed perimeter or under direct, armed supervision when outside ofa secure perimeter. The population gender is male only. E "Echo" Dormitory is located on the west side ofthe oval-shaped compound. Approach is made from two sidewalks which meet directly in front ofthe dorm. The sidewalks are separated by a barbed wire fence. The sidewalk which approaches from the northern end ofthe compound, and at an angle, requires access through a gate immediately in front ofE Dorm while the sidewalk approaching from the southern end ofthe compound, and which approaches straight-on, has no gate access. E Dorm is "butterfly" shaped and is divided inside by four (4) quads. Quads 1 and 2 are on the left side ofthe dorm. Quad 1 is to the front and quad 2 to the rear. Continuing clockwise, quad 3 is located to the rear on the right side and quad 4 to the front on the right side. Essentially, quads 1 and 2 are mirror images ofquads 3 and 4. In the center ofthe quads, a circular shaped sally port area provides access into each quad by separate doors. In the center ofthe sally port is a raised glass-enclosed Control Room or "bubble" which allows corrections officers to look into the sally port and all four quads. The Control Room serves as master control ofall locked doors to the outside ofthe dormitory, for egress/ingress into each quad, and to open all cell doors within the quads. The sally port connects behind the Control Room but access for each side is controlled by a locked door. The sally port does not connect in the front. There are three doors providing access into the dorm from the outside area at the junction ofthe sidewalks. A door on the left side ofthe entrance provides access to the sally port on the quad 1-2 side, a door on the right side provides access to the sally port on the quad 3-4 side, and a center door provides direct access into the Control Room. Inside quad 4 are two levels ofcells numbered 1 to 14, clockwise. Quad 4 is roughly in a triangular shape; the cells are contained on the wall directly opposite the entrance (the back wall) and also on the wall to the right. Bottom tier cells are numbered 101 to 114 and second tier cells are numbered 201 to 214. Cells are identified by their dorm letter (E), followed by the quad number (4), then tier (1 or 2), and then cell number. There are two (2) sets ofstairs in each quad. The set closest to the door separating the quad from the sally port rises and connects to the second tier outside ofcells E4-212 and E4-213 on the right wall. The other set ofstairs rises and connects to the second tier outside ofcells E4-201 and E4-202 on the back wall. 5 The ground tier has open floor space and contains a number of tables for the inmates. There are vacant offices and pay phones along the left wall. The second tier is ringed by a catwalk and connects to the two sets of stairs previously described. There is a railing around the catwalk consisting of three rails parallel to the ground and separated by approximately 18 inches intersected by vertical posts which are affixed to the catwalk flooring. The space between all bars and posts is open. A television is affixed to the catwalk flooring at the triangular junction of the upper tier so that inmates can watch from the ground tier. The cell doors are opened electronically from the Control Room. They slide along tracks and open to the right or left depending on their location relative to each other. Each door contains a handle which is used to manually pull the door shut. They have windows vertically oriented. There is an open space of approximately 6 inches at the bottom of each.door. As each door is on a track, it is possible to see through the very narrow opening created by the track between the door and the wall when the door is shut. Cells contain two bunks affixed to the wall. Underneath the bottom bunk are two enclosed lockers, side by side, for each inmate. Across from the bunks are two small tables affixed to the wall. There is a toilet just inside the cell door. Each cell has a window on the back wall. The windows have slats similar to a jalousie window but are covered on the inside by plates with holes to allow for air flow. B. The Use ofForce Against Matthew Walker On April 10, 2014, Walker was housed in cell E4-210. At approximately 10:00 p.m. the corrections officers assigned to E Dorm conducted Master Roster Count, a nightly count while the inmates are locked down. This was completed without incident. "Lights out" in the dorm was at 11 :00 p.m. All inmates are supposed to be locked down in their cell although "housemen" may be allowed to remain out of their cell in order to clean and tidy the quad. At some point during the evening of April 10, at least some of the inmates were made aware by a corrections officer that a "spot" inspection of E Dorm was going to be made. This inspection was called different things but what the evidence clearly indicated was that its intention was to ensure that each cell was clean and that personal items were properly put away. Nobody knew at what time this "spot" cell compliance check would be held but the evidence is clear that it occurred after Master Roster Count. Earlier in the evening, a number of sergeants were ordered to a meeting wherein they were told that cell compliance checks would take place at chosen dormitories on the compound. The inspections would be supervised by Triplett. The inspections were the idea of Thomas, who testified that this was the third or fourth time the checks were being implemented. Thomas was the highest ranking officer on the compound when Walker died on April 11. 6 result could be so incongruous, this is yet another example of a failure by DOC to recognize the importance ofpreserving evidence relevant to this use offorce and in custody death incident. 5. Lack of Cameras/Videos The evidence revealed that there were not any working cameras in E Dorm on April 11, 2014. By current rules and policies, cameras are only required in the Close Management Dormitories and Mental Health Dormitories. Prior to 2012, CCI was solely a Close Management facility and all dormitories were required, pursuant to the rules and policies ofDOC, to have cameras. After the custody grade status changed and CCI converted to an "Open Population" facility, cameras were no longer required in every dormitory and when the equipment broke down, they were not always maintained. The only working dormitory cameras on the compound at the time of the incident were the cameras required by rule. There were several working cameras monitoring the outside compound that were working on April 11, 2014. FDLE was provided with video from two (2) different camera angles recording the sidewalk that runs on the northern end of the campus and approaches E Dorm from an angle, passing in front ofA Dorm, Medical and G Dorm. Those recordings show a few corrections officers running towards E Dorm and then, a short time later, medical staff and a gurney heading to E Dorm. The recordings also show seven (7) people returning from the area ofE Dorm and heading towards medical. When asked if there were any other available cameras or angles, the FDLE agent testified that the video footage described above was all that was given. The DOC Inspector was also questioned about which cameras were working on April 11, 2014. He indicated that there was a camera on the comer of the canteen building facing southerly which may have also contained images of the sidewalk on the southern end of the compound and which terminates directly in front ofE Dorm. No footage from this camera was provided or preserved. The location and orientation ofthis camera on the canteen building as described by the inspector should have captured Walker being carried from E Dorm towards the Captain's Office. It is of great concern to this Grand Jury that this video footage was not provided to FDLE. The DOC Inspector also testified that he reviewed some ofthe camera footage from April 11, 2014 but that he was not in charge ofcopying any of that video for FDLE. The DOC Inspector specified that a different inspector copied the footage onto discs for FDLE. The Grand Jury recommends that neither the DOC nor its Office ofInspector General should determine which video evidence is preserved or provided to FDLE. So long as FDLE is tasked with investigating crimes, use offorce involving death or serious bodily injury, or in custody death incidents at CCI, it should have open and free access to the camera system there at any time. FDLE should be able to log on to the camera system remotely to retrieve footage from those cameras at any time. Recorded video footage from the cameras at CCI should be maintained for a minimum of 90 days. When there is a use of 19 force involving death or serious bodily injury, the DOC should maintain video footage for a minimum period of five (5) years. There was not a handheld video camera present before FCOl ordered cell door E4-210 open or when Triplett went into the cell although such cameras are available at CCL This is particularly troublesome since the fixed cameras in E Dorm were not functional. hnportant visual documentation does not exist. It was clear from the evidence that Walker was upset and that FCO 1 intended for him to be placed in confinement when she called down to Triplett. The Grand Jury recommends that when DOC staff intends to enter a cell to deal with a disgruntled, upset or irate inmate, video documentation should be made. Such video documentation should, at a minimum, be covered by fixed cameras in the dorm. Additionally, a handheld camera should be present if more than one DOC staff member intends on entering a cell with an already disgruntled, upset or irate inmate. Alternatively, the DOC could provide body cameras which are signed out by and utilized by staff during their shift. This Grand Jury also received testimony that a handheld camera was called for by Thomas since there was a use of force incident. The handheld camera was retrieved and brought to Walker's location outside the Captain's Office. By the time that the handheld camera arrived the medical staff was on scene. Thomas began to write out a statement he intended to read on camera to document the use of force but before Thomas could go on camera CPR was started on Walker. The handheld camera was never turned on to document the scene outside of the Captain's Office, nor any of the other scenes previously described in this Presentment. This is extremely puzzling and suspicious since a handheld camera was used shortly thereafter to document the unremarkable transfer of Walker's roommate to confinement. This Grand Jury further recommends that each dormitory on the compound contains a working handheld camera to be utilized as mentioned above. 6 General Recommendations This Grand Jury recommends that every applicant for the position of corrections officer should undergo rigorous psychological testing before being hired by the Department of Corrections. Additionally, ongoing testing should be conducted as necessary and should be required after a corrections officer is involved in a use of force incident involving death or serious bodily injury. Finally, drug testing should be mandatory after a corrections officer is involved in a use of force incident involving death or serious bodily injury. V. CONCLUSION The death of Matthew Walker was tragic, senseless and avoidable. This Grand Jury has endeavored to make positive recommendations to assist the Department of Corrections to avoid these types of incidents in the future. 20 DISTRIBUTION REQUEST The Grand Jury requests that this Presentment be furnished to the following: TheHonorable Rick Scott, Governor Office of the Governor State of Florida The Capitol 400 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0001 TheHonorable Pam Bondi Attorney General of Florida Office of the Attorney General State of Florida The Capitol PL-01 Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1050 TheHonorable Julie L. Jones, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections 501 South Calhoun Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2500 TheHonorable Andy Gardiner President of the Senate 409 Capitol 404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399 TheHonorable Steve Crisafulli Speaker of theHouse of Representatives 420 Capitol 402 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399 TheHonorable Larry Ahern 405HOB 402 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399 TheHonorable Danny Burgess 1301 Capitol 402 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399 TheHonorable Lizbeth Benacquisto 326 SOB 404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399 TheHonorable Nancy Detert 416 SOB 404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399 TheHonorable Rob Bradley 208 SOB 404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399 TheHonorable Eric Eisnaugle 1301 Capitol 402 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399 22 CERTIFICATION OF PRESENTMENT The Grand Jury respectfully submits this Presentment this, the y We, Amira D. Fox, Chief Assistant State Attorney and Richard J. Montecalvo, Assistant State Attorney and Shannon L. Doolity, Assistant State Attorney as authorized and required by law, have advised the Grand Jury returni /s��LITY Assistant State Attorney 24 ./6__ day of June, 2015.