FOX 35 Investigates: Inmate dies in use of force incident

A protest is planned for Tuesday in Lake County after a prison inmate died following a use of force incident.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the man’s death and the officers involved are on leave.

Officials say guards used force on the prisoner at Lake Correctional Institution in Clermont Thursday. The man was taken to the hospital and died the next day.

“My understanding is that he was serving a four-year sentence that he was halfway through,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, about the inmate.

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) has not released the inmate’s name but sources tell FOX 35 he was in his early 50s. Officials have not said what led up to this death citing an open investigation.

“Lake Correctional Institution in particular is a prison that has seen excessive force, has seen abuse by correctional officers,” said Eskamani.

Last year, video from a contraband cell phone surfaced online. It shows officers beating an inmate at Lake Correctional Institution. Several officers were fired and charged.

“That’s real life. That’s what it’s like in prison,” said Debra Bennett, a former inmate who now advocates for those still locked up.

She is organizing a protest for noon on Tuesday outside the State Attorney’s Office in Tavares, demanding answers and justice.

“We keep doing this…we keep doing this. The only thing that changes in the name of the person,” Bennett said.

An FDC spokesperson sent us a statement saying in part, “If misconduct occurred, those responsible will be held fully accountable for their actions.”

“I think that our nation is at a point when we're sick of tired of it. People are sick and tired of law enforcement coming around and people are getting killed that shouldn’t be killed,” Bennett said.

The state says its officers are trained in de-escalation and the use of force is only used when absolutely necessary. There is no word on whether this incident was caught on camera.