In 2012, a 50-year-old inmate at Dade Correctional Institution in Florida died after he was allegedly left in a boiling hot water shower for two whole hours.
The man from Los Angeles was serving his two-year period in prison after he was arrested on a cocaine charge.
However, the four officers who allegedly forced him into the shower got away scot-free.
Darren Rainey had reportedly taken part in a protest at the correctional institute during which he smeared feces on himself. He was then forced to stand in an 80°C (176°F) shower as punishment.
It is important to note that Rainey was mentally ill but instead of receiving proper treatment for it, he was forced into prison and treated like a criminal.
He was left in the shower for two hours and suffered burns on 90 percent of his body. He was found with his skin peeled off, lying face-up in 3 inches of water and without a pulse.
One inmate recalled Rainey looked like a “boiled lobster” during the torture incident, and others said they heard him scream for help.
“Please take me out! I can’t take it anymore!” he shouted.
Officers involved in Rainey’s death were being investigated, but now a statement from Assistant State Attorneys Kathleen Hoague and Johnette Hardiman claims that “the evidence fails to show that any correctional officer acted in reckless disregard of Rainey’s life.” They even released a 101-page report claiming Rainey's cause of death was "an accident."
“This is not justice for Darren, for his family, nor for the mentally ill who have been subject to similar abuse and mistreatment,” said the family’s solicitor Milton Grimes.
Moreover, an autopsy showed that Rainey’s “skin slippage” and redness was probably the result of officers dragging his body out of the shower and in efforts to revive him.
Emma Lew, a medical examiner, believes the man’s death was caused by schizophrenia, heart disease and confinement in the small shower space, all put together.
However, civil rights organizations are calling out the U.S. state attorney's decision to close the case. According to witnesses, the officers often used the hot showers to punish inmates.
"Just because the state attorney found that the standards to secure a criminal conviction was not met does not mean that corrections officers did not do something horribly wrong,” Howard Simon, American Civil Liberties Union's Florida executive director, told Al Jazeera.
"Changes need to be made in our corrections department to ensure that guards are held responsible when their actions, negligent or willful, result in the death of an inmate,” he added.
"Florida specifically has a long and sordid history of prisoners being killed by guards. There are systemic failures at every step, from preventing abuse, investigating, and holding them accountable,” said Alex Friedmann, associate director of the Florida-based Human Rights Defense Center, calling Rainey’s death preventable.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Lucy Nicholson