9 Investigates

Doctor says Central Florida inmate left quadriplegic after beating by corrections officers not getting adequate medical care in prison

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — Her head hit the prison floor as correctional officers dragged her away in handcuffs.

Inmates told investigators that the guards told them to look away, but an inmate who witnessed the beating said she was sure Cheryl Weimar was dead.

Newly released eyewitness accounts detail the moments before and after records show Weimar was viciously beaten by two correctional officers at Lowell Correctional Institution in Marion County last August because she couldn’t clean a toilet.

READ: Woman was almost beaten to death by 4 guards at prison near Ocala, lawsuit alleges

Records show Weimar said she couldn’t complete the cleaning due to hip and back pain from preexisting injuries.

Weimar’s medical records show after the attack, she’s now a quadriplegic.

The records show a doctor who evaluated Weimar said the Florida Department of Corrections doesn’t have the adequate equipment or resources to care for her.

Weimar was being treated at a hospital but is now back behind bars.

Medical records show a doctor hired by her attorney noted that with her bone fractures, spinal cord injury and ongoing medical complications, the prison is incapable of meeting her medical needs.

The doctor states Weimar is not receiving any rehabilitation intervention or therapeutic services, which the doctor said are essential for her physical and emotional well-being because she is bed-bound and restricted to the medical department.

“Why wouldn’t they just let her out?” Channel 9 investigative reporter Daralene Jones asked defense attorney David Bigney.

“Florida law requires if you're sentenced to prison to serve at least 85% of your term,” Bigney said.

READ: Protesters say inmate at Ocala’s Lowell Correctional was nearly beaten to death

Records show Weimar has eight months left to serve before she hits that 85% threshold, so long as she is able to maintain the criteria for good behavior.

Weimar is serving a six-year sentence after being convicted of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

An Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson countered the doctor’s claims in a statement to Channel 9 saying in part, “FDC assures an appropriate level of health care is provided to all inmates and our medical provider is held accountable for care in line with evolving national standards.”

The spokesperson continued, stating that if an inmate needs outside medical care, they will receive it, and that “unfounded accusations or information about an inmate’s health status released by attorneys or other parties cannot be acknowledged, explained, corrected or even addressed by FDC.”

READ: 'It was torture’: Osceola County inmate released after she says she was left to miscarry alone in cell

The investigation into Weimar’s beating remains under open and ongoing investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

One officer allegedly involved, Keith Turner, has been fired, but only because he was arrested on charges related to performing sex acts on two children.

READ: Man accused of inappropriately touching, performing sex acts on children, deputies say

The other officer, Ryan Dionne, is still employed with FDC. He hasn’t been arrested in the case but was arrested in 2013 for allegedly beating his girlfriend.

In that case, the prosecutor said, despite evidence, the charges were dropped because his girlfriend wouldn't cooperate.

The FDC spokesperson said the officers involved were reassigned to posts that do not have contact with inmates, pending the outcome of the investigation.

FDC Secretary Mark Inch released the following statement to Channel 9:

“The Florida Department of Corrections has processes in place to identify, report, investigate, terminate and arrest, as applicable, those who violate our standards of professional conduct. I have made it very clear that we have zero tolerance for abuse and have taken swift action to hold correctional officers accountable, when we have substantiated evidence against a staff member for misconduct.”

READ: 9 Investigates the cost of inmate healthcare

Bigney said by and large, most correction officers do a good job and are good people.

“They have their due process rights,” Bigney said.

Both officers pleaded the Fifth during recent depositions for the federal lawsuit.

“They're pleading the Fifth right now because they can,” Bigney said. “Where they can't plead the Fifth is in an internal affairs investigation. That is a compelled statement.”

Jones will continue to follow Weimar’s case and will provide updates on the investigation and Weimar’s pending release on Eyewitness News.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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