Christopher Howell Florida inmate at Lake Correctional Institution beaten to death by Officer Michael Raymond Riley, Jr. Was serving time for stealing four phone chargers.
Christopher J. Howell, 51, was less than halfway through his sentence at the Lake Correctional Institution near Orlando when he died Friday after a beating the day before.
Howell entered the prison system in February 2019 — a month before the corrections officer was hired — and was projected to be released June 3, 2022 after being arrested for theft and aggravated assault over a 2018 incident in West Palm Beach.
The Miami Herald reported the prisoner being beaten — as other officers watched — for refusing a command, according to inmates and one officer. Sources told the paper that Howell suffered a broken neck and attempts were made to revive him.
The cause of death remains under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) Inspector General.
I join the community in calling for swift action in this matter. pic.twitter.com/Joj6Y5JhCV
— Dianne Hart (@DianneHartFL) June 22, 2020
Democratic State Rep. Dianne Hart identifies alleged officer involved in fatal beating
The FDC said officers involved have been placed on administrative leave but have not been identified, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
‘Any employee found to have acted inappropriately or illegally faces disciplinary action up to and including dismissal and arrest,’ the FDC said in a statement. ‘FDC has zero tolerance for staff who act inappropriately and contrary to our core values: respect, integrity, courage, selfless service and compassion.’
The FDC said it cannot release the names of officers involved in ongoing investigations.
However, Democratic State Rep. Dianne Hart took to Facebook Monday identifying the officer who perpetrated the beating as Officer Michael Raymond Riley, Jr.
‘I understand the need for an investigation, but there is film that can be pulled to immediately fire Officer Riley,’ Hart posted.
History of prison violence & delinquent correction officer behavior
Of disconcert, the prison has a history of violence. One inmate serving 27 years for drug-related offenses told the Herald that Howell had the ‘mind of a 10-year-old boy’ and was not someone who could defend himself. He said he witnessed the officer allegedly involved in Howell’s death once slap him across the face for not returning a food tray.
Howell was arrested in September 2018 in West Palm Beach after stealing an $8 folding knife at a Home Depot and walking over to a Target and taking four $15 phone chargers. He eventually pleaded guilty to robbery with a deadly weapon and theft.
On Monday, State Rep. Dianne Hart called for the involved officer’s arrest.
‘There have been over 60 arrests since August 2019 of correctional officers, contract workers and medical staff for a variety of illegal activities including malicious battery on an inmate, sexual misconduct charges and introduction of contraband to name a few of the charges,’ she said. ‘Is FDC the new breeding ground for illegal activities?’