New Misconduct at Clay County
Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler publicly apologized Tuesday to a Green Cove Springs teen who was wrongfully arrested and spent more than a month in jail on a sexual battery charge.
Cody Lee Williams, 19, spent 35 days in jail last year after Deputy Sheriff Johnny Hawkins failed to show the victim a photo of Williams to get a positive identification.
Policeabuse.com Probing Florida Inmate's Suspicious Death; Aiming For Federal Criminal Investigation
Policebuse.com, after more than six months spent analyzing the stark disparities between two separate, but "official reports" describing the highly suspicious death in March of an inmate in a Florida jail, has announced a wide-ranging investigation to hold its officials accountable.
The inmate, Daniel Linsinbigler, Jr., supposedly on "suicide watch" in solitary confinement, died March 12 in his cell. One hour before he died, Linsinbigler, 19, reportedly begged sheriffs deputies in the Clay County Jail to remove the "spit" mask they had pulled over his head after strapping him into a restraint chair and repeatedly pepper spraying him.
Linsingbigler, frantic because he could barely breathe, according to several witnesses, was also panicked by severe chest pains.
According to the March 13 autopsy performed by Associate Medical Examiner Stacey A. Simons, M. D., Linsinbigler's death, "in an isolation cell," was a homicide caused by asphyxiation.
Florida State Attorney Stephen Nelson apparently disagreed with the scientifically verifiable evidence on which Dr. Simons based his ruling. Young Linsinbigler's death, according to Nelson, "was accidental and unintended" and not the result of "criminal wrong-doing."
According to the Sheriffs Department's Internal Affairs investigation, "jail personnel performed CPR and later transferred Linsinbigler to Orange Park Medical Center where he died." Yet Linsinbigler had no pulse when discovered in his cell and had died well before he was transported to the Medical Center.
With a 90-day timeline, Policeabuse.com's investigation is expected to conclude in early March. A report will be published and submitted to Florida Governor Rick Scott. Much more important, however, the report will be forwarded to the United States Department of Justice, most likely with a recommendation for a criminal investigation into the conduct of the eight deputies and two nurses who reportedly refused to seek immediate medical assistance for Linsinbigler as he gasped for air.
Instead of attending to Linsinbigler, they returned him to his cell. Approximately one hour later, according to several accounts, Linsinbigler "was found unresponsive in his cell." One erroneous newspaper report claimed that he had "collapsed in his cell."
That report was matched by several inaccuracies contained in The Florida Times Union's August 23, news article, which alleged that Linsinbigler "was being watched by corrections officers when he died in a restraint chair."
In at least three separate sessions, however, deputies questioned by investigators from Internal Affairs, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney's Office, testified that, after spraying Linsinbigler, they took him to his cell.
Now, in the wake of intensifying scrutiny and sharply conflicting accounts and reports, Linsinbigler's death has forced a much broader and deeper focus on the conduct of the deputies and nurses.
Despite the scrutiny, however, neither the Florida Department of Law Enforcement nor Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler has charged, terminated, disciplined or suspended any jail staff responsible for Linsinbigler's care and custody on that day.
Policeabuse.com contacted Mary Justino, Sheriff Beseler's public affairs officer, to request an explanation of his failure to discipline deputies or nurses for refusing to aid the suffering Linsinbigler while he was in severe distress. She promised to seek Beseler's answers. Additional calls placed to Justino were not returned later in the week.
Beseler also refused to comment months ago, when news reporters requested statements regarding the Medical Examiner's ruling that Linsinbigler death was a homicide,
For Linsinbigler's mother, father, relatives and friends, the investigations are meaningless and irrelevant.
Diop Kamau, founder and director of Policeabuse.com, agrees with them. Further, Kamau asserted, "no evidence to form the basis of a credible investigation and subsequent report was collected at the scene" (around the restraint chair or in the cell where Linsinbigler died).
Rather, said Kamau, "I believe evidence was misstated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which went along with the narrative given its investigators by the deputies, that followed the one they had already released to news media: That Linsinbigler was a disruptive, combative prisoner (so readers would assume that) deputies were justified in using "reasonable force" to subdue him."
"There is no indication that he was a threat," Kamau continued, "this allegation was manufactured by state officials, which they accepted from deputies as gospel. Its also what several newspapers printed, based on what the deputies told them: That he posed a threat, was belligerent and violent, but he had already calmed down (well after he was put in the restraint chair) and there is no evidence that he threatened anyone."
In fact, added Kamau, "he didn't do anything. They were punishing him for what he said earlier, in his cell, when he wanted a pen and some paper."
Everyone, including deputies, nurses and investigators, agreed that Linsinbigler, who the night before his death was depressed over mounting chest pains, had been agitated because he wanted to see a doctor or nurse and speak to a judge. Linsinbigler also banged on his cell door and kicked it.
The deputies claimed that Linsinbigler would not cooperate when told to "come forward (to the front of his cell) so we can cuff you." They further alleged that he challenged them enter the cell and fight him, which has repeatedly been denied by other inmates.
"Why didn't they leave him in the restraint chair, but remove the mask," asked Kamau? "If a dinner guest had said, "I'm choking on a bone," you'd get up and do something to help him, wouldn't you? But they didn't do anything, so why wasn't anyone charged? Its like sitting comfortably on a bench, only steps away from a creek, and watching someone drown."
The deputies, Kamau charged, "had created an unnecessary medical emergency, then failed to address it once it spun out of control."
On March 20, said Daniel's mother, Valerie Ann Linsinbigler, she "received a call from Captain Waugh, who told me that Daniel was found unresponsive in a cell and had died. He was very evasive," she said.
"I asked him, 'why is my son dead, why was he found in a cell.' He said there was no excessive force, (though she had not asked if any had been used), and told me how perfect his jail is and that meets all regulations. So I asked again, then why is my son dead?"
Not content with Waugh's answers, Mrs. Linsinbigler called Wes Smith, another official, who became frustrated by her insistence on an accurate account of Daniel's death. Smith finally told her, she said, "ma'am your son was nothing but a drug addict and a thief."
Much later, Mrs. Linsinbigler said, she learned, "while my son was begging for his life, the deputies were laughing and joking and talking about sports."
Young Linsinbigler, although he had been arrested for trespassing and indecent exposure and was struggling with drug addiction, had no history of violent crime. He was scheduled for release from the Clay County Jail on March 14.
For his parents, relatives and friends, his death was needless and could easily have been prevented.
"To calm him down, (on the night before he died and early the next morning), all the deputies had to do was walk over to their computer and run his name. If they had, they would have been able to tell him that he had a March 14 court date and was scheduled for pre-release."
But they ignored him and put him in the restraint chair. One of them reportedly "opened Daniel's mouth, emptied a full can of pepper spray into it and put the hood over his head."
Then her son, Mrs. Linsinbigler said, began to promise, "l'll be good, I'll be good, just take this hood off my head, I can't breathe, I can't breathe, just let me get some air!"
As Linsinbigler choked on the pepper spray, one of the deputies reportedly told him, "if you can talk, you can breathe..."
Another deputy has sworn that "we were told to check on him every 15 minutes."