FRANKLIN COUNTY, FL — An inmate was locked in solitary confinement and repeatedly sprayed with mustard-colored gas until he died, an investigation has uncovered. Officials then allegedly covered up the death and claimed it was due to natural causes.
The case has been buried for four years, until four Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) investigators came forth as whistle-blowers to reveal allegations of multiple cases of torture, abuse, corruption, and homicide.
Veteran DOC investigator Aubrey P. Land is one of four speaking out, and claims to have been “bullied” through official channels. Of the corruption uncovered, Land found the death of 27-year-old Randall Jordan-Aparo particularly disturbing.
“I’ve done this for 30 years. My skin don’t crawl very often,” Land said. “They killed that damn kid. He laid there for five days begging for help.”
The inmate was being held in the Franklin Correctional Institution and was experiencing cold-like symptoms caused by a pre-existing blood disorder that was documented in his prison medical file. Instead of giving him proper medical treatment, guards showered him in poisonous gas. The Miami Herald reported Land’s findings:
[Randall Jordan-Aparo] had been ill for weeks prior to his death, begging for medical attention as he increasingly grew weaker.
When he could barely breathe, walk or talk, he demanded that the prison’s nurses take him to the hospital. They allegedly refused, even after consulting by phone with doctors and other medical staff.
Jordan-Aparo became angry, and cursed the nurses, threatening “to sue their asses” if they didn’t get him to the hospital, records show.
The nurses called the guards, claiming Jordan-Aparo was being “rude.” The guards placed him in a steel-walled solitary-confinement cell.
“The next day, the captain comes down there and gasses him, and gasses him and gasses him,” Land told Miguel.
He was sprayed so much that photographs show the outline of his body surrounded by mustard-colored gas all over the cell walls.
The prison’s supervisors and guards fabricated reports saying that their use of chemical agents was justified because Jordan-Aparo was “causing a disturbance.” Land, who said he viewed video footage of the inmate’s last hours, said the inmate was too sick to cause a disturbance and that all he wanted was to go to the hospital.
Mr. Jordan-Aparo was found dead in solitary confinement with a Bible next to his head, covered in yellow residue from the gas. He was serving an 18-month sentence for fraud and drugs.
The death took place on September 19, 2010, and has been buried for years. At the time, the inmate’s father was told by prison officials and the Franklin County medical examiner that his son died from natural causes — an “infection.”
As such, the incident was never treated as a homicide and no investigation took place. No one was ever disciplined or held criminally responsible.
Investigators Aubree Land, John Ulm, Doug Glisson, and David Clark have filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida, alleging systematic abuse, corruption, and brutality inside the Department of Corrections. The lawsuit states that they were retaliated against for uncovering official misdeeds.
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On Friday, September 19th, 2014, a total of thirty-two (32) employees with the Florida Department of Corrections were fired by DOC Secretary Michael Crews, after investigating a long history of systematic brutality, official coverups, and buried complaints. The firings were spread across all four of the state’s prisons.
The unprecedented move came after the Miami Herald helped to expose damning evidence regarding the outrageous behavior of the guards and multiple suspicious inmate deaths. Aside from Mr. Jordan-Aparo’s death, was the horrific killing of Darren Rainey, who was cooked to death by torturous prison guards in a scalding shower until his skin began to peel off.
Among the most sadistic of the guards was Rollin Suttle Austin, who was known to brutally bash prisoners’ heads into concrete, grab inmates by the throat, and often boasted about getting away with murder. Complaints about Austin were continuously ignored during his 23-year career. He received high marks and timely raises up until the state-wide scandal broke.
The accounts of the whistle-blowers and inmates are nothing short of disturbing. The reports included allegations of systematic forging of incident reports and guards who brazenly told inmates that they knew how to “act for the cameras” and cover up their frequent brutality.
The firings of the 32 DOC employees is a refreshing and necessary step, but it is only a first step. Those responsible for committing and covering up acts of violence and murder need to be put behind bars themselves. The nation patiently awaits for the sadistic guards to be charged for their criminal actions.