ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - 9 Investigates has learned that the death of a 75-year-old inmate who had been at the Orange County Jail has been ruled a homicide.
William Howard was arrested Nov. 16 after Orange County deputies said he beat and stabbed his wife with a kitchen knife in their front yard.
According to the autopsy report, while Howard was in custody, there was, "use of restraint force by law enforcement" that happened in jail two days before his death.
The medical examiner found a fractured vertebral disc and a crushing injury that caused hemorrhaging.
The final report filed in February ruled the death a homicide.
Channel 9’s Janine Reyes asked officials with the jail when the deadly injuries happened, but officials would only say the matter is under investigation.
“(He) was a very nice fellow. (He was) very quiet, easy to get along with,” said neighbor Michael Newman.
The jail released the following statement on Monday:
Orlando, Florida (May 22, 2017) – On Nov. 19, 2016, William Henry Howard, a 75- year-old inmate from the Orange County Corrections Department (OCCD), was transported by emergency medical services to the Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC). On Nov. 20, Mr. Howard died at the hospital.
Upon notification of his death, the Orange County Corrections Department (OCCD) reported the incident to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), who serves as the lead investigating authority in any case involving the death of an inmate. On Dec. 12, 2016 Orange County Public Safety Director Dr. George Ralls and Chief of Corrections Cornita A. Riley met in person with the family to provide them with a timeline of events that took place in the hours before his death. The family was also notified that both OCCD and Corrections Health Services would fully investigate the circumstances of his death and provide the family with those findings. OCCD leadership staff has remained in close contact with the Howard family.
An autopsy report later confirmed that Mr. Howard died as a result of a traumatic injury that was sustained when correctional officers used an approved physical control technique. Physical control techniques are commonly used when an officer needs to safely gain control or move an individual who is actively resisting. The technique was used after numerous and prolonged attempts were made to gain Mr. Howard’s cooperation in moving him to another cell.
On May 10, 2017 we were advised that the OCSO investigation had been completed and, based on their findings, the Office of the State Attorney found no probable cause for a criminal complaint.
The OCCD internal review is now active, having been put on hold throughout the entire period of time the case was being investigated by the OCSO. A medical quality review was completed as well, which resulted in the termination of one nurse and reprimand of two other nurses for failure to follow policy that requires a thorough medical evaluation after any use of force incident.
- Mr. Howard, age 75, was booked at the Orange County Corrections Department Nov. 16 by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. He had been arrested on aggravated battery with a deadly weapon/domestic violence. He was being held on $25,000 bond status. He had no previous bookings at OCCD.
- Arrest affidavit and booking photo are attached.
- One nurse was terminated Jan. 16, 2017 and two other nurses were reprimanded related to this incident.
- OCCD internal investigation is still active.
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