Charges dropped against officers accused in beating of Florida inmate

Charges have been dropped against three Florida correctional officers and their captain in connection to the alleged beating of an inmate at a state prison in 2019.

Capt. Milton Gass and officers Ian Gretka, Hunter Lingo, and Joshua Petersilge were terminated from their positions at the Lake Correctional Institution in Clermont after a video of the alleged incident was posted on YouTube. The video was said to be recorded on July 8, 2019, by another inmate who had smuggled in a cell phone, according to officials.

Inmate Otis Miller reportedly suffered broken ribs and bruising on his face, eye, and jaw. Lingo and Petersilge were arrested and charged as principals to malicious battery, while Gass was charged with two counts of perjury by false declaration and three counts of solicitation to commit the felony crime of perjury by false declaration. Gretka was later arrested on a charge of malicious battery. 

Mark Inch, who served as Florida Department of Corrections Secretary at the time, announced an investigation into the incident.

"The Florida Department of Corrections will not tolerate inmate abuse at any level," he said in a statement. "These swift disciplinary actions are a testament to our commitment to ensuring officers are held accountable when they abuse the trust of the public and those they are charged with supervising."

Now, nearly three-and-a-half years into the investigation, the FDOC said there is insufficient evidence to continue the prosecution of the four men. 

"There is direct exculpatory evidence negating the guilt of Defendant Ian Gretka that would be admissible during trial at this time," read a statement from prosecutors. "The inability to positively identify Ian Gretka as the suspect who broke Otis Miller's ribs and the lack of specific intent to act as a principal to the injuries results in the inability to show each CoDefendant to have been a principal in this case."

The FDOC added that any misdemeanor offenses related to the investigation have expired under the statute of limitation.