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Grand Jury Presentment - Inmate Death (Walker), Charlotte County FL, 2015

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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

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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.

 

 

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