OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Osceola County Corrections officials have cleared officers accused of excessive use of force during a March incident when they were relocating Everett Miller, the man accused of fatally shooting two Kissimmee police officers last year, to another unit in the jail.
Miller, 46, had been in the Osceola County Jail since Aug. 19, 2017, when he was arrested in connection with the deaths of Sgt. Sam Howard and Officer Matthew Baxter.
Jail staff members said they received a tip on March 30 that Miller and another inmate in the medical bay were planning to hurt officers and medical staff. Corrections staff decided to separate the inmates and rehouse them to different units in the facility.
During that rehousing Miller "refused verbal orders given resulting in force being used in order to gain compliance," an officer wrote in the log of that attempted relocation. Miller was forced to the ground, according to the investigation. One of the officers said in the report that Miller "kept actively resisting" and he delivered "knee spikes to the outside of Miller's right leg."
Another officer said during the attempt to restrain Miller, he hit him with his fist, missing his arm and striking his neck area.
Eight officers were physically engaged with Miller, according to video of the incident. Miller was on the floor eight seconds after the officers entered the medical bay.
After the incident, Miller was moved to the Orange County Jail.
The investigation found that although some protocols were not followed, including failing to file an incident report after officers used force on Miller, their use of force was justified.
"Although use-of-force incidents are sometimes necessary in day-to-day jail operations, they are never taken lightly or without due consideration. Corrections officers are trained to use the least amount of force necessary to gain compliance from inmates," said Osceola County Corrections Chief Bryan Holt. "In this case, it was determined that although there were some policy violations, the corrections officers involved in the use of force against inmate Miller adhered to that training and did not use excessive force."
The investigating manager recommended supervisory staff at the jail receive training on managing use-of-force incidents and that supervisors physically involved in such incidents should not be able to investigate it or complete the incident information.
"In this situation, there were multiple supervisors on scene, however, no one took command of the situation," according to the recommendations in the report.