A 101-page investigation concluded that corrections officers who locked a schizophrenic inmate in a hot shower at Florida’s Dade Correctional Institution and left him there for nearly two hours until realizing he was dead committed no crime, reports the Miami Herald. The report from Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle said the death of Darren Rainey, 50, was an accident, the result of complications from his mental illness, a heart condition and “confinement in a shower.” At least six inmates claimed that the shower was rigged so corrections officers controlled the temperature and were able to crank it up to scalding or down to an uncomfortably frigid spray, using it as punishment to control unruly inmates, most of whom suffered mental illnesses. The state attorney’s two-year probe decided that the inmates’ statements were not credible.
Milton Grimes, the attorney representing Rainey’s siblings, suggested the report’s release late on a Friday, on St. Patrick’s Day, was meant to limit public scrutiny of the clear “inadequacies” of the investigation. “We are appalled that the state attorney did not look deeper into this case and see the criminality of the people who were involved,” Grimes said. “A lot of evidence was tampered with because the people there who had an interest did not want it to come out,” said Harriet Krzykowski, a former mental health counselor at the prison. The report gives no indication that crime scene investigators turned on the shower to see how hot it ran. Other than two prison officers, a nurse and a paramedic, no one was interviewed by police until two years later, when the Herald began raising questions about the case. One fact is undisputed: Rainey’s skin was peeling off his body when he was pulled out of the shower.