Two Orlando correctional officers are no long employed at the facility after an investigation revealed they forced inmates to eat cigarettes, which could have been deadly, according to investigators.
A department spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that a corrections officer resigned and his supervisor had been fired from the Department of Corrections. Investigators also said they believe the captain committed the crime of perjury for lying under oath.
One of the inmates spoke up in September 2019, which triggered a monthslong investigation. In a report, the inmate said an officer woke him and two others up one night and took them to where there weren’t any surveillance cameras and “punched and forced (them) to eat 10 cigarettes,” according to the investigation report.
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Other inmates reported similar treatment and off-the-books punishment for getting caught with contraband.
The prison’s medical services director told investigators the consumption of large amounts of tobacco can cause nicotine poisoning, which could be lethal.
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Sgt. Carl Behlen was the main target of the complaints. His supervisor was Capt. Jeffrey Langford.
According to the report, one officer told investigators “it was almost common knowledge they did so.”
Investigators noted that, when confronted with the evidence, Langford denied everything and accused witnesses of lying.
Behlen at first downplayed his role, but investigators said in the report he later admitted he forced inmates to eat tobacco.
The Department of Corrections in a statement said it has no tolerance for staff who act inappropriately and it encourages inmates and staff to report inappropriate or illegal conduct. It is not yet known if either man could face criminal charges.
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