Florida inmate starved to death after guards broke his neck and left him unattended for days: report

Francis Akhalbey October 18, 2022
Prison guards allegedly broke Craig Ridley's neck -- Image Credit: The Miami Herald

A Florida inmate allegedly suffered a broken neck and starved to death after he was wrestled to the ground by guards who also rebuffed his claims about the injury. The deceased, identified as Craig Ridley, was refused medical attention for five days, Independent reported. He passed away a month later. 

The 62-year-old inmate is said to have sustained the injuries after Captain William Jerrels wrestled him to the ground, The Miami Herald reported. The incident happened on September 8, and Jerrels is said to have physically assaulted Ridley after the inmate attempted to strike him. 

Footage of the incident shows Ridley notifying the officers about his potential neck injury. But his claim was rebuffed. 

“Your blood pressure and all is fine. You ain’t paralysed,” an officer is heard saying. Guards at the facility recorded the video, and it was obtained by The Miami Herald.

The Florida Department of Law (FDLE) also determined that workers at Lake Butler’s Reception and Medical Center paid little attention to the injuries Ridley sustained. The deceased inmate was placed in a confinement cell after he was allegedly assaulted, and he remained there without receiving any medical attention. Guards and nurses also walked past his cell during that time. But they ignored inmates who raised worries over Ridley’s condition.

A video the FDLE looked into showed an officer moving the paralyzed inmate’s head and supposedly making fun of him. An inmate who spoke with the FDLE also said a staff member did not intervene after seeing another inmate turn Ridley’s neck.

The FDLE report stated that a nurse and doctor who examined Ridley concluded that he did not need medical attention. The two medical officials, however, arrived at that decision without having Ridley undergo neurological testing. An FDLE spokesperson told the Herald that the nurse and doctor are no longer employees at the facility.

Eleven inmates also informed the guards that Ridley wasn’t moving or touching his food. But nothing was done about that. Officials rather presented documents that had Ridley’s forged signature on meal forms to show that the inmate was having sufficient meals.

Ridley also sustained another injury after he fell on the ground when guards put him on the toilet. Medical staff ultimately arranged for him to be taken to the hospital for treatment. But that was five days after he broke his neck and got paralyzed. Ridley died on 12 October 2017.

And though authorities ruled Ridley’s cause of death as a homicide, criminal charges weren’t brought against the officers or medical staff who attended to him, Independent reported. For about a year, Ridley’s family has reportedly been fighting to get to the bottom of the details surrounding his death. 

Last year, Ridley’s daughter also named Florida’s Department of Corrections secretary, correction officers, and some medical staff as defendants in a civil rights lawsuit she filed. 

Ridley, an army veteran, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting at his employer’s door during an altercation over salary. The deceased man was a kitchen worker in the prison at the time of his death. 

Inmates who spoke with the FDLE said Ridley was “a model inmate.” In a statement to the Herald, an FDLE spokesperson said that the events surrounding Ridley’s death are not a representation of its policies and the department has “learned from [the case.]”

“This was an inhumane death caused by an abysmal lack of medical treatment,” Ridley’s sister, Diane Ridley Gatewood, said. “It was torture.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: October 18, 2022


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