MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The death of a mentally ill inmate thrown into a hot shower at Dade Correctional Institution has been ruled accidental, sources told our news partners at the Miami Herald.
The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s autopsy report, completed this week, concludes Darren Rainey died of schizophrenia, heart disease and “confinement” back in 2012, sources told the paper.
The report states the 50-year old did not suffer any burns on his body. It also says investigators also could not conclude the specially rigged shower was “excessively” hot the day he collapsed.
But inmate Harold Hempstead claims he heard Rainey screaming in pain in that shower. This week CBS4’s Chief Investigative Reporter Michele Gillen brought his story to light.
Hempstead is credited with sounding the alarm over Rainey’s death.
“He goes into the shower and what do you begin to hear? Tell me the words that you heard?” Gillen asked Hempstead in the rare television interview.
“It takes about a minute for the shower to get full hot, so once it’s on full hot he started yelling ‘Get me out of here, get me out of here’ and kept kicking the door and kicking the door. He continued to yell ‘It’s hot, get me out of here’ and was kicking and kicking and kicking,” reflected Hempstead. He told Gillen those screams haunt him.
Hempstead said he can recall Rainey repeatedly saying, ’I’m sorry I can’t take it no more. I won’t do it again.” Hempstead went on, “And he continued to restate those words and then the kicking started slowing down and then at 9:30 it sounded like he hit the wall and then his body fell. And then there was no more yelling.” Hempstead described the shower as a torture chamber. “It definitely was a torture chamber because it was used for the purposes of inflicting punishment,” said Hempstead then added, “You have 11 working showers that you can’t control the temperatures in but the only shower that they can control the temperature in, they put him in. They don’t put him in a shower that he has to walk by; they take him to a shower 150 feet from his cell upstairs, the only shower that they can turn on full hot. It’s the only shower in the blind spot,” claimed Hempstead.
Sources told the Herald the autopsy reportedly says the guards had “no intent” to harm Rainey when they kept him in the shower for about two hours.
More than three years after his death, the Medical Examiner’s Office released its final autopsy report to Miami-Dade Police and prosecutors. However, the report remains private since the investigation is ongoing, according to the Herald.
CBS4 News has repeatedly requested an interview with the Florida Department of Corrections for comment on Hempstead’s allegations and responses to a series of questions raised by CBS4. The Department said it has declined comment due to the ongoing investigations by the Miami-Dade Police and the Miami-Dade Medical Examiners Officer.
This is the DOC statement:
“The death of Darren Rainey remains the subject of an open and active investigation being led by the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD). Until the investigation has been completed, any questions regarding the investigation or the circumstances of Mr. Rainey’s death should be directed to the MDPD. Since the initiation of this investigation, the Florida Department of Corrections has worked collaboratively with the MDPD, the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office State Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Department of Justice. The Department will continue to fully cooperate with our law enforcement partners and employ all available resources to ensure that a thorough investigation is completed as expeditiously as possible.” – Office of Communications/ Florida Department of Corrections
Miami’s American Civil Liberties Union talked to the paper following the news of the “accidental” ruling saying it “defies logic.”
Following the release of the report, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office now has to conclude whether corrections officers committed any crimes in connection to Rainey’s death. A spokesperson declined to comment to the paper.
Meantime, federal officials are conducting a criminal investigation into Rainey’s death.