Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 8:16pm
Latandra Ellington had weathered some of Lowell Correctional Institution's harshest and most primitive realities, and was just seven months shy of freedom - and being reunited with her four young children.
But on Sept. 21, Ellington wrote a chilling letter to her aunt telling her she feared she wouldn't make it out alive. One of the officers at the prison - she identified him as "Sgt. Q" - had threatened to beat and kill her, she wrote.
"He was gone [sic] beat me to death and mess me like a dog,'' she wrote. "He was all in my face Sqt. Q then he grab his radio and said he was gone bust me in my head with it...''
Ten days later, on Oct. 1, Ellington, 36, was dead. Corrections officials said Ellington, who had been serving 22 months for grand theft, was in confinement - separated from the general population - at the time of her death because the agency had taken her family's concerns about the alleged threats "seriously.''
Still, with no answers about how the death happened, the family hired an attorney and paid for a private autopsy. The autopsy, their lawyer said Monday, showed that Ellington suffered blunt-force trauma to her abdomen consistent with being punched and kicked in the stomach.
On Monday, civil rights attorney Daryl Parks, whose firm represented the Trayvon Martin family and has now been hired by Ellington's relatives, urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate.
Photo courtesy of the Ellington family.