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3 Florida correctional officers charged with murder in 'back alley justice' beating of inmate, officials say

The inmate was fatally assaulted “even though he was in handcuffs and compliant with officer commands,” the state Department of Law Enforcement said.
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Three Florida correctional officers accused of administering “back alley justice” in the fatal beating of a prison inmate this year were arrested Thursday on suspicion of murder, officials said.

A fourth unidentified officer who is also accused of participating in the alleged Feb. 14 assault remained at large, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a news release.

The three officers were identified as Christopher Rolon, 29; Kirk Walton, 34; and Ronald Connor, 24, the agency said. They were charged with second-degree murder, according to court records and the law enforcement department.

Dade Correctional Facility in Fla.
Dade Correctional Facility in Fla.NBC Miami

The Florida Corrections Department said in a statement released five days after the alleged beating that 10 officers had been placed on administrative leave and that one had resigned.

The Corrections Department notified the state inspector general and asked the state law enforcement agency to investigative the matter, the statement said.

The beating is alleged to have occurred after an inmate in the mental health unit at Dade Correctional Institution was reported to have thrown urine at one of the officers. 

The officers restrained the inmate, who was not identified, and removed him from his cell, the department said. Then they began beating him — “even though he was in handcuffs and compliant with officer commands,” the department said.

The inmate, who was scheduled to be taken to a different prison, was so badly injured that he had to be carried to the transport van, the department said.

When the van stopped in Ocala, about 340 miles away, the inmate was found dead in a secure compartment inside the van, the department said. An autopsy determined that he died from a punctured lung that caused internal bleeding.

"Individuals who are sentenced to incarceration by our criminal courts have lost their freedom but not their basic rights," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "Inmates should not be subject to forms of ‘back alley’ justice which are actions in violation of Florida law.”

It was not immediately clear whether the officers have lawyers to speak on their behalf. Court records did not list any.