TALLAHASSEE — Three Wakulla Correctional Institution officers were arrested and fired this week after investigators said they falsified reports against inmates and needlessly used pepper spray against a prisoner.
The investigation started March 23 when the Department of Corrections' Office of Inspector General tipped off Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators.
Angered by a "disparaging" comment about her, officials say, Capt. Megan Dillard falsified 13 disciplinary reports against 13 inmates. The inmates lost some privileges and were transferred to a confinement dormitory, according to the FDLE.
During the transfer, officer Andrew Gazapian allegedly forced an inmate to the ground, though he wasn't being combative, and sprayed him with pepper spray. Gazapian, officials say, bit himself on the left arm and blamed his injury on the inmate in another false report.
Officials say the inmate was later accused of causing a disturbance in his cell and sprayed three more times. But investigators found no evidence of a disturbance and found reports about the inmate's actions, which they said were ordered by Maj. Joseph Garrison, to be false.
As a result of the investigation, The Corrections Department fired the employees and the FDLE arrested them on the following charges:
• Dillard, 31, of Tallahassee on 13 counts of official misconduct.
• Gazapian, 23, of Tallahassee, on charges of official misconduct, fabricating physical evidence and battery.
• Garrison, 39, of Crawfordville, on a charge of official misconduct.
Garrison, a 16-year employee who earned $57,000 annually, and Dillard, a 13-year employee who earned $41,000, were arrested in Wakulla. The FDLE ordered Gazapian, a three-year employee with a $31,000 salary, to turn himself in when he returns to Florida from an undisclosed location next week.
Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss thanked the Wakulla Correctional officers for having the courage to alert his agency about the incidents.
"As for the officers arrested today, I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior they are accused of," Buss said in a statement.
State attorney Willie Meggs will prosecute the case.
Katie Sanders can be reached at (850)224-7263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.