ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A Florida Department of Corrections officer accused of breaking an inmate's jaw at a prison in Orange County was arrested this week on battery charges as the result of a Florida Department of Correction Officer of Inspector General investigation.
According to the OIG report, Jestyn Allen was transferring the inmate on July 18 at the Central Florida Reception Center when he used force on Carlton Hart, deploying pepper spray and using a leg sweep, causing him to drop chest-first to the ground.
Another inmate who witnessed the incident told investigators that Allen "clotheslined" Hart to the ground and then punched him several times.
According to the OIG investigation, Allen's account in his use of force incident report was "not consistent" with eyewitness statements.
Investigators said Allen declined to be interviewed.
The inmate is the former brother-in-law of Tampa Rep. Dianne Hart.
The state representative said she brought the incident to light Aug. 1 after learning that the inmate suffered a broken jaw and required surgery.
"I am very glad to hear that we are moving toward justice for Carlton Hart, and I thank the Inspector General's office for their work. We hope to see justice served and the message sent that all inmates under our care must be treated with respect and dignity," Hart said in a prepared statement Tuesday. "Unfortunately, these are not isolated or rare events within Florida's prison system. Good staff is under-supported, and bad staff is out of control."
Allen is charged with malicious battery causing great harm, and also with perjury by false declaration. He was arrested Tuesday and booked into the Orange County Jail.
The Florida Department of Corrections will fire Allen, according to a statement.
"The Florida Department of Corrections does not tolerate mistreatment of inmates under any circumstances. The results of this investigation serve as a testament to our commitment to accountability and the processes in place to identify, investigate, and arrest those who violate the law and our standards of professional conduct," DOC Secretary Mark Inch said in a statement. "The unacceptable actions of this individual are in no way a representation of the thousands of correctional officers who selflessly serve our state with respect and integrity daily."
According to the DOC's Inspector General report released in September, 103 employees were arrested in the 2018-19 fiscal year.