3 Lake correctional officers charged after video shows beating of inmate

Inmate has been transferred to different prison

By ClickOrlando Staff

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - The Florida Department of Corrections said three Lake County correctional officers have been charged after a YouTube video showed guards beating an inmate on July 8 at the Lake Correctional Institution.

An inmate shot the video with a phone. The footage shows an officer punching another inmate multiple times.

The department also fired the three employees, according to the FDC.

Capt. Milton Gass, hired in July of 2007, was charged with two counts of perjury by false declaration and three counts of solicitation to commit the felony crime of perjury by false declaration.

Gass has been accused of submitting a report of the incident with false information and/or omission of facts, an arrest affidavit shows.

Correctional Officer Hunter Lingo, hired in June of 2017, was charged with one count of principle to malicious battery.

Lingo is accused of beating the inmate who was already subdued by other officers, according to an arrest affidavit.

He's also accused of punching an inmate five times around the head and upper torso area. 

Correctional Officer Joshua Petersilge, hired in September of 2016, was charged with one count of principle to malicious battery.

Petersilge is accused of stomping on the inmate when he was already subdued by other officers, according to an arrest affidavit. 

"They get to be on the other side, and I pray no one treats them like they treated my brother," said Shantell Grace, who said her brother Otis Miller was the victim in the video.

She said she found out about the arrests when News 6 called her on Wednesday night.

"I was happy to hear that because that’s what I wanted," she said. 

"We took immediate action to terminate the employees arrested today following the criminal charges brought against them. The Florida Department of Corrections will not tolerate inmate abuse at any level. These swift disciplinary actions are a testament to our commitment to ensuring officers are held accountable when they abuse the trust of the public and those they are charged with supervising. We will continue to work cooperatively with the Inspector General as they continue to investigate all of those found to be involved in this incident. This investigation is not over. Anyone found to have acted outside their authorities or the standards of our Department will be held accountable,” Secretary Mark Inch said in a statement. 

Court records show the inmate has been in prison since 2002 on drug charges and a charge of battery on a law enforcement officer. 

The inmate has been transferred to a different prison.

State Representative Dianne Hart issued the following statement regarding the arrests of the Florida D.O.C. officers:

“After seeing the video, I knew I had to act, so I and the other representatives drove to Lake Correctional and requested to see Mr. Miller. There have only been a couple of facilities I’ve been in where the inmates tell me, ‘No, they’re not beating people here,’” said Hart, who has visited 26 facilities so far. “There’s no question this is not an isolated incident. This is happening throughout the state of Florida and this upcoming legislative session I plan on sponsoring meaningful prison reform legislation.”
 
“I praise Secretary Inch and the Inspector General’s Office for their swift action regarding this incident. I look forward to working with Secretary Inch, Governor DeSantis and the Inspector General’s Office to ensure that all inmates under our care are treated with dignity and respect and that all of the involved officers will be brought to justice either administratively or with criminal charges.”

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