9 Investigates

Lawsuit filed after man incarcerated at Lake Correctional Institution nearly beaten to death by correctional officers

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — A state prison inmate who was nearly beaten to death inside of Lake Correctional Institution is now suing the Florida Department of Corrections and the State of Florida.

Attorney Ryan Andrews filed the lawsuit on behalf of Otis Miller, who was hospitalized after he was beaten by corrections officers in July 2019.

Grainy cell phone video recorded by another inmate led to termination and criminal charges for the corrections officers accused of carrying out a brutal beating on Miller, which they denied during interviews. When inspector general investigators asked who punched Miller in the face, a former captain said, “nobody punched the inmate in the face, sir, I didn’t see anybody punch him in the face.”

READ: Video shows Lake County inmate minutes after corrections officers allegedly beat him up

The inspector general investigators describe in arrest affidavits that Miller sustained bruising to the face, a blood clot, fractured ribs and a pulmonary contusion from several blows and kicks to the face and body as well as a chokehold.

Miller's attorney alleges in the lawsuit that the officers hurled the "n"-word — during and after the beating. And during the beating, hoping that the defendants would stop, he begged to go to medical and mental health declaring medical and psychological emergencies. "He's a man with intellectual disability, he was beaten to a pulp while he had his legs and hands restrained. Being beaten for no reason and having racial epitaphs while this happened," Andrews said.

All of it was sparked when Miller refused to hand over a pack of cigarettes he bought from another corrections officer, who planned to re-sell them to another inmate.

READ: Fourth corrections officer charged after video shows inmate beating in Lake County

"The sad part of this, other than the beating itself, was that Otis Miller was told that if he reported it or told anybody it would happen again," Andrews said.

Miller did share his story, exclusively with 9 Investigates last October, and had said that inmates might be safer if the state prisons had body cameras for officers.

The department is now in the process of adding tasers that, if used, will automatically activate body cameras also being added, at some prisons.

A spokesperson told 9 Investigates the program is estimated to cost about a million dollars over each of the next four years, and maybe then they won't have to worry about illegal cell phones to hold officers accountable.

“It’s always, ‘well inmates lie they don’t tell the truth,’ well now with body camera on the guards you won’t have that anymore,” Andrews said.

READ: ‘I didn’t see anybody punch him’: Officers deny beating inmate in new interview footage

The department would not comment specifically for this story and referred us to a previous statement.

Secretary Mark Inch said:

“We took immediate action to terminate the employees arrested today following the criminal charges brought against them. The Florida Department of Corrections will not tolerate inmate abuse at any level. These swift disciplinary actions are a testament to our commitment to ensuring officers are held accountable when they abuse the trust of the public and those they are charged with supervising. We will continue to work cooperatively with the Inspector General as they continue to investigate all of those found to be involved in this incident. This investigation is not over. Anyone found to have acted outside their authorities or the standards of our Department will be held accountable.”