June 21, 2014

Watching the Detectives - Part 2 - Yesterday's Meeting at the State Attorney's Office

After I cleared security at the entrance to the Office of the State Attorney, I went up to the fifth floor for my meeting. By the way, I totally bungled the security check in. You would think after all the time I spent at Dade CI, I would've remembered to take off my belt and watch. No matter. After four passes through the metal detector, I was good to go.

Being 20 minutes early, I had to wait a bit. Not one to stay idle, I had a great conversation with a staffer named Barbra from Extraditions. I filled her in on the Rainey situation and promised to keep her in the loop. Moments later, Johnette "Johni" Hardiman, an Assistant State Attorney, dropped by and escorted me to a conference room.

Joining us were Detectives Sanchez and Palmer. I shook hands, and looking in Sanchez's direction said, "It's good to see you again." We had met previously to discuss Rainey about a month or so before Julie Brown broke her first story. (See my blog, "Watching the Detectives - Part 1.")  

The "facts" were ASA Hardiman's first concern. For her it came down to what could be proven in court. When she asked me if I could provide any factual information regarding the Rainey case, I told her that all I could speak factually to was the escalating abuse when I worked at TCU and the circumstances surrounding the Swilling beating. She was genuinely interested about what I had to say even if most of my account was admittedly "hearsay."

I brought Hardiman up to speed on what, by this point, was well known for people who have read the Miami Herald articles written by Julie Brown and Fred Grimm. Not to mention, my blogs and first chapter of my book. (There are links to all Herald articles on www.georgemallinckrodt.com)

I pointed out that the Transitional Care Unit had become a hostile workplace for me. I described two cases in which my work with inmates was sabotaged by guards. In one case, an inmate who had dramatically improved had been smashed to the concrete floor by security, opening a bloody gash on his forehead. Later, in his decompensated state, he attacked me.

The other case involved a patient who was the recipient of relentless taunting, tormenting and skipping of meals by a particularly mean spirited guard. The first chance this abused man got out of his cell, he punched the guard in the nose breaking it. There was blood everywhere. My patient was sent away to what was essentially, solitary confinement. Whether his absolutely necessary psych meds were continued, I could not say.

In reality, I could have chosen from a multitude of sabotaged cases.

Another source of hostility was from the guards themselves. After I met with Warden Jerry Cummings regarding Swilling and other abuse, he instructed me to file Incident Reports as inmates recounted guards' abusive tactics. Consequently, corrections officers started treating me differently when their names started appearing on reports. I got the cold shoulder. I got looks. They started rumors.

I went on to explain my theory that the decline in the unit was due to the reluctance of the Corizon Health Site Manager to confront guards over abusive behavior. In fact, the abuse accelerated after she and my coworker signed off on the falsified Incident Report regarding the Joseph Swilling beating. It sent a message to the guards that they could do whatever they pleased with no repercussions. A year later, Rainey was brutally murdered.

I even threw in details of the "Silence Meeting" for good measure.

Hardiman asked me who the site manager was. I replied, "Dr. Christina Perez, a licensed psychologist in the state of Florida." She then asked, "Is she still working there?" "Yes," I answered. "Who better to bring attention to inmate abuse? Me? I tried and I was fired."

Incidentally, what really irks me about Corizon, raking in millions of our taxpayer dollars, is that they sit smugly on the sidelines, with their spineless site managers casually looking the other way, as inmates are tormented, beaten, tortured, and murdered. Does Corizon get a free pass? (Check out my blog entitled, "It's Time to Put Corizon Health, Inc. Under a Magnifying Glass.")
The conversation shifted to witnesses. I pointed out there were three potential candidate pools from which to interview individuals: The guards – probably all telling the same lie by now. Nurses – they saw the condition of the body and checked for vitals. Inmates – many had direct lines of sight to the shower and saw guards putting Rainey in what became a death chamber. They also saw Rainey being removed - some even saw patches of his skin falling off on the stairs. Most heard Rainey’s anguished pleas to be let out. And what about inmates who cleaned the shower stall before authorities arrived? By the way, guards never have to clean cells - if a mentally ill inmate defecates in his cell, inmates do the dirty work.

The interview ended with me suggesting that the FL DOC and Corizon needed to be contacted to ferret out all the witnesses.

Despite the meeting being cordial and me feeling that I had been listened to, I left feeling uneasy. I had essentially relayed the same information to Detectives Sanchez and Akin. Aside from somebody new listening to me, what is going to change? (Please read, "Watching the Detectives - Part 1.")

As I contemplated the situation further, one particularly glaring fact emerged: The State Attorney's Office and Miami-Dade Homicide completely botched the original investigation. They failed Darren Rainey. They failed his family. They failed inmates still subject to abuses within the prison system. They failed anybody with a sense of justice.

If they had done the investigation properly when they were first called in, all of the witnesses would be in one location with freshly remembered details of the crime. The investigation could have been conducted with relative ease. As it stands now, inmate witnesses have been relocated to prisons all over Florida. Who were the nurses on that Saturday shift? Corizon knows. And the guards - some are still there, as for the others - the DOC knows. Tracking them all down now is going to be labor intensive and costly.

Was Darren Rainey such a low priority that investigators thought the case would die out from inattention? After all, who would care what happened to a lowly inmate such as Darren Rainey? Did they think people would stop trying to do something about it? If investigators came to the conclusion it was just going to go away and that nobody cared, they were DEAD wrong.

I never stopped caring and I never gave up. Neither did the inmate Harold Hempstead. He worked the case from the inside while I worked it from the outside. Add Julie Brown and a powder keg went off. The explosion cannot be contained. Ever increasing numbers of people from around Florida, and indeed the nation, are outraged.

So here we are now at the two year anniversary of Darren Rainey's murder. What could have been a relatively straightforward investigation has now become a logistical nightmare. Is the Office of the State Attorney going to mobilize a concerted effort to bring Rainey's killers to justice? Are they going to do the investigation they should have done in the first place?

More and more people from all of Florida want Rainey's killers to answer for their crimes. In fact, people concerned with justice demand nothing less.

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George Mallinckrodt