Four prison guards who are alleged to have killed a schizophrenic inmate by effectively boiling him to death have escaped charges.
Darren Rainey was forcefully held in a scalding hot shower for hours after he smeared faeces on himself at the Dale Correctional Institution in Miami, Florida, in 2012.
Rainey, 50, had refused to stand under the shower but was told by Officer Roland Clarke that he could not leave until he washed.
After starting to wash, Rainey said, “No, I don’t want to do this,” and leaned on a wall away from the water, according to Officer Clarke.
Officers continued to check on him, and the decision was made to take Rainey out of the shower after around two hours but he was found lying face up in about 8 centimetres of water with no pulse and not breathing.
Another inmate, Harold Hempstead, alleged that he had heard Rainey yelling and kicking at the shower door, saying, ”I’m sorry. I won’t do it anymore” and “I can’t take it no more” while the guards laughed.
Several witnesses said Rainey’s skin appeared to be peeled back or reddish in some spots and looked like a “boiled lobster”.
However, an autopsy found this “slippage” was most likely caused by friction or pressure on his moist and warm skin that was applied in an effort to revive him.
Prosecutors have now concluded Hempstead was an unreliable witness and concluded Rainey had died partly because of undiagnosed heart disease and suffered no scalding injuries.
Dr Emma Lew, Miami-Dade’s medical examiner, said Rainey did not suffer any burns of any kind and there was no evidence of trauma.
She said his death was down to a combination of his schizophrenia, heart disease and confinement in the small shower space.
Dr Lew said that schizophrenic people can have nervous system reactions that trigger a heart attack if they have an underlying condition.
Prosecutors said that the guards did not commit murder or manslaughter, writing in a memo: ”Placing an inmate who has defecated upon himself in a shower to decontaminate himself is not conduct that is criminally reckless.
“There was no evidence of any intent to harm Rainey.”
The conclusion ends a nearly five-year probe into the death Rainey, who was serving a two-year sentence on a cocaine charge.
Milton Grimes, the layer for Rainey’s family, said in a statement that the family is “disappointed and heartbroken” that no charges will be brought.
He added: ”This is not justice for Darren, for his family, nor for the mentally ill who have been subject to similar abuse and mistreatment,” Mr Grimes said.
The prosecutors determined that corrections officers did not commit murder or manslaughter in Rainey’s death and that taking him to the shower was appropriate under the circumstances.