Florida

Fourth correctional officer arrested after alleged Florida prison beating on video

A lawsuit filed Wednesday, May 8, 2019, says the Florida Department of Corrections is violating the constitutional rights of inmates by its extensive use of solitary confinement.
A lawsuit filed Wednesday, May 8, 2019, says the Florida Department of Corrections is violating the constitutional rights of inmates by its extensive use of solitary confinement. Bigstock

A fourth Florida Department of Corrections officer has been arrested in connection with an alleged July 8 beating of an inmate that was caught on video.

The arrest affidavit says that after joining other corrections officers at Lake Correctional Institution outside Orlando, Ian Gretka grabbed the inmate and began “maliciously and without legal authority“ pounding punches to the torso as the inmate was facedown.

In announcing the arrest of Gretka in Lake County on a charge of principal to malicious battery, the corrections department also announced his firing after three years with the agency.

The investigation that resulted in Gretka’s arrest — as well as the arrests of Capt. Milton Gass, Officer Hunter Lingo and Officer Joshua Peterslidge — continues into the July 8 “use of force incident.”

According to relatives and the person who posted the video to YouTube, the inmate under what appears to be a pile of officers on the video is 43-year-old Otis Miller.

Corrections Senior Law Enforcement Inspector Roy Long wrote in the probable cause affidavit his view of the video: “Officer Gretka was observed immediately grabbing Inmate [Miller’s] legs and upon pulling them outward, bent over the top of him. Officer Gretka then began striking Inmate [Miller] repeatedly [at least 13 times] in the torso (ribcage) area.”

After listing his many certifications in close quarters restraint and defense instruction, Long writes that based on his experience, “Officer Gretka never evaluated what was occurring during the use of force (to establish legal justification for the use of force), instead he immediately grabbed Inmate [Miller] and began repeatedly punching him in the torso (maliciously and without legal authority).

“Inmate (Miller) was lying face down with his arms under his body. Officer Gretka’s punches were striking the back of (Miller’s) torso. There are absolutely no areas on the rare of a subject’s body that are authorized or taught as target areas for strikes in defensive tactics training.”

The italics and rest are Long’s from the probable cause affidavit.

Long also noted that Gretka never submitted a report after he used physical force on Miller, as required by Florida law.

The Florida Times-Union reported that, after the July 8 incident, but before the July 13 posting of a video, several officers appeared to be making inappropriate remarks about the beating in a Facebook group chat that got screen shot and bounced around social media.

The group chat was cited in affidavits for the arrests of other officers, but Gretka was not identified as a member of the group chat by the Times-Union.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.
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