Florida prosecutors say they found no evidence of a crime in the death of a black, schizophrenic man who was left in a hot shower for almost two hours. They concluded he died accidentally due to undiagnosed heart disease and did not suffer burn injuries.
Darren Rainey was mentally troubled and serving a two-year sentence on cocaine charges.
According to a lawyer for the family, Milton Grimes, the family is “disappointed and heartbroken” that no charges will be brought against the guards.
“This is not justice for Darren, for his family, nor for the mentally ill who have been subject to similar abuse and mistreatment,” Grimes stated.
One of the nurses who saw him after he was removed from the shower said that he had burns to 90 percent of his body and his skin was peeling off from the 180F shower.
The autopsy did not record an exact cause of death, and the body was quickly cremated.
Despite other inmates claiming they too had been subjected to these hot showers as punishment, the investigation found no evidence that the Dade Correctional Institution tortured inmates this way.
Assistant State Attorneys Kathleen Hoague and Johnette Hardiman stated in their 72-page memo that one inmate’s claims that Rainey was calling for help and had been scalded to death were unfounded.
According to them, “the evidence fails to show that any correctional officer acted in a reckless disregard of Rainey’s life.”
It was on June 23, 2012, that Rainey was taken to the shower after he smeared feces all over himself and his cell.
The shower is operated from outside the room and was in the control of the guards. They say that Rainey was not cooperative and refused to wash off, so they left him there, though they checked on him regularly.
By the time they decided to take him out of the shower, he was laying face up in three inches of water with no pulse.
According to the medical examiner, Emma Lew, his death was attributed to a combination of schizophrenia, heart disease and confinement in a small space.
Schizophrenic people can have nervous system reaction that can sometimes trigger a heart attack if there is an underlying condition.
“It is not substantiated that the temperatures inside the shower room were excessively high,” said Lew.
The prosecutors wrote, “Placing an inmate who has defecated upon himself in a shower to decontaminate himself is not conduct that is criminally reckless. There was no evidence of any intent to harm Rainey.”