LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - State officials say the correctional officers seen on video beating an inmate at a Florida prison could face criminal charges.
In a statement released Wednesday, Florida Department of Corrections secretary Mark Inch said the department is investigating the video that was recently recorded at Lake Correctional Institute and posted to YouTube.
“This video is deeply disturbing. We have zero tolerance for officer abuse or misconduct for any reason. The actions of these individuals will not be tolerated. Our Office of Inspector General has launched an immediate investigation. All officers identified to be involved have been taken out of contact with inmates and will not be allowed to return to full duty until a thorough investigation has been completed. Those found participating in any level of abuse, or failing to properly report abuse, will be subject to administrative and criminal charges,” Inch said.
The department has declined to publicly identify the correctional officers or the inmate, but Shantel Grace said it was her brother, Otis Miller, who was beaten.
"You can’t just attack people like animals because this is what you want to do. This can be anybody’s family member," Grace said. "It brought tears to my eyes."
The five-minute video, which was recorded by another inmate, shows Miller on the ground, surrounded by a group of officers who deliver multiple blows. About four minutes into the footage, the guards pick up Miller and take him away.
The men narrating the video claim Miller's head was swollen.
Grace said someone reached out to her anonymously and told her about the incident, otherwise she wouldn't have known.
"I contacted Tallahassee. Me and my brothers wrote letters for them to do an investigation," Grace said. "When I showed up, I caught them off guard because they wanted to know how did I know that he was in confinement."
A Department of Corrections official said Miller was taken to an area hospital for medical evaluation after the incident, although the extent of his injuries or treatment could not be released due to medical privacy laws.
Miller, who has been behind bars since 2002 on drug and battery on a law enforcement officer charges, has since been moved from the facility in Clermont to a different prison.
Once the investigation is completed, a report that includes the correctional officers' identities will be released. It's unclear how long the investigation will take.
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