A Florida prison guard on Wednesday allegedly broke the neck of a female inmate who suffered from both mental and physical disabilities, according to a report from the Miami Herald.
Inmate Cheryl A. Weimar, 51, of the Lowell Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in unincorporated Marion County, was complaining of health issues when a correctional lieutenant allegedly slammed her onto the floor multiple times before dragging her out of the prison.
According to the report, Weimar, a Broward County native, complained to corrections officers that she was unable to clean a toilet due to a pre-existing hip condition. A confrontation ensued during which Weimar told the officers that she was undergoing a psychological emergency.
Instead of calling for a medical professional to intervene, as prison policy dictates, sources told the newspaper that the guard became angry and Weimar was slammed to the ground and then dragged to a wheelchair, “with her head bouncing along the ground.” She was eventually taken to the hospital where she was placed in intensive care and initially deemed to be suffering from a possible broken neck. The Herald said that it received confirmation that Weimar’s neck was broken.
Former Lowell inmate Debra Bennett, who currently heads a Florida inmate advocacy group, told the Herald that since the incident, multiple inmates have reached out and provided her with power of attorney in the event something happens to them because they are in fear for their lives.
“Here’s the way it works: When there is a death or a beating that everybody with a working mind knows isn’t supposed to happen, you feel it. Everyone is feeling this incident, it’s a silent tension that doesn’t leave you. You are suspicious and you are afraid, and you are on alert. All these inmates are scared. They are all afraid to talk,’’ Bennett said.
Lowell is already the subject of a Department of Justice investigation, initiated last year, where authorities are investigating multiple accounts of inmates alleging they had been sexually assaulted by prison guards.
The Florida Department of Corrections would not comment on any particulars regarding the incident, but did say that “the preliminary reports of this incident are concerning.” The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is leading the investigation instead of the prison system’s inspector general’s office, which the report deemed as “likely an indication of the gravity of what occurred.”
[image via Florida Department of Corrections]