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Guards on leave, nurses fired after prisoner beaten

TALLAHASSEE — Seven prison guards were placed on paid leave and four nurses were fired after the severe beating of an inmate at Union Correctional Institution last weekend that went unreported for nearly 48 hours.

Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil ordered a full-scale internal investigation and asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and FBI to determine whether the inmate's civil rights were violated, and whether the guards and nurses should face criminal charges.

According to McNeil, the inmate threw feces at a correctional officer about 7 p.m. Aug. 15. The inmate was removed from his cell and was "assaulted numerous times by staff members," McNeil said.

The inmate was not treated for his multiple injuries until Monday morning and was moved to an outside hospital.

"The inmate's injuries are serious and are reprehensible," McNeil told reporters at a news conference. "The actions which resulted in these injuries will not be tolerated, and those responsible will be brought to justice."

Prison officials did not identify the inmate, citing federal health laws on confidentiality, or discuss his injuries. They said he is a 47-year-old white man who is doing time for drug offenses.

Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, with a population of 2,012 inmates, is one of three large prisons that make up the so-called Iron Triangle in rural north-central Florida. The officers placed on administrative leave Thursday were Lt. Bennett Kilgore; Sgt. Aaron Coleman, Sgt. Eugene McLemore and four guards: John Carter, Derek Gibstein, Sean Johnson and John Thomas.

The nurses who were fired Thursday were Alicia Bettylou Forsyth, Zelda Mae Lee, Catherine Collinwood and Tony Davis.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

Guards on leave, nurses fired after prisoner beaten 08/21/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 21, 2009 10:10pm]
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