(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Officers will not be prosecuted after Miami inmate dies in shower

An inmate was locked in a shower for two hours, and witnesses say he looked like a "boiled lobster"

Katie Serena
March 21, 2017 12:15AM (UTC)

In 2012, an inmate in a Miami prison died after being locked in a scalding hot shower for almost two hours. Now, almost five years later, prosecutors have finally decided that the officers responsible for locking Darren Rainey in the shower will not be held accountable for his death.

The 101-page report, released Friday, said that the death of Rainey, 50, was accidental, and attributed to heart disease, schizophrenia, and being confined to the shower. But according eyewitness testimony from fellow inmates, Rainey was scalded to death at the Dade Correctional Institution.


Several of the inmates who were present during the incident, claimed that Rainey's skin was "peeling" and red, and one specifically recalled that Rainey looked like "a boiled lobster," according to NPR. Other inmates have said that corrections officers rigged the shower in order to be used as punishment. They said that the officers were able to control the temperature — turning it up to scalding temperatures, or down to frigid ones — in order to control the inmates.

The state attorney's office found that these claims were unsubstantiated, and that the inmates were not credible witnesses, in part due to the fact that nurses who worked at the facility claimed they had never treated injuries consistent with burns from hot showers.

The attorney's office also found that the staffers involved, Sgt. John Fan Fan and officers Cornelius Thompson, Ronald Clarke and Edwina Williams, did not act with premeditation, malice, recklessness, ill-will, hatred or evil intent — and won't be charged.

According to the state medical examiner, Dr. Emma Lew, people with schizophrenia have an impaired ability to compensate for “heat stress” and therefore Rainey would have had trouble coping with the hot shower.

"It is not substantiated that temperatures inside the shower room were excessively high," she said.



Since the report's release on Friday, the investigation has been disputed.

Medical professionals around the country, such as Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist who was on New York State's prison medical review board for 40 years, raised questions about the autopsy, and why it took so long for the report to be released.


Milton Grimes, the attorney representing Rainey's family, expressed his disagreement with the findings.

"It’s possible that Mr. Rainey fell out in the shower, had a seizure in the shower or a number of things,” he said. “When you combine the heat of the shower and the medication he was on. He should have been under supervision the entire time he was in the shower.”
In 2016 the Rainey family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit with the Florida Department of Corrections, which is still pending. Further possible civil rights abuses in Florida prisons are currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Katie Serena

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