Matthew Walker was unconscious, handcuffed, face-down on the sidewalk, in front of a dorm at Charlotte Correctional Institution. The inmate had been beaten and his larynx was crushed so badly that his throat was swollen shut.
Lt. Tyler Triplett, blood on his white shirt, stood over him.
“Do you know who I am? I’m going to kill you mother——!” he shouted, so visibly angry that he had to be restrained by his supervisor, a corrections captain.
But corrections officers were busy tending to the minor injuries of two guards hurt during a melee with Walker, so they let him lay there, thinking that he was faking.
“Whatever game you’re playing, you need to get up and walk. My staff is too tired to do this,” the captain, David Thomas, told him, according to witnesses.
But Walker, 45, had already asphyxiated and, according to a grand jury report released Tuesday, over the next few hours, prison staff removed, contaminated or cleaned up most of the crime scene evidence. The officers gathered in a room, wrote their reports and, a few days later, met again at a convenience store near the prison, ostensibly to support each other after the ordeal, the report said.
In a blistering and graphic rebuke of the Florida Department of Corrections, the Charlotte County grand jury report stated that Walker’s death — ruled a homicide by the medical examiner — was “tragic, senseless and avoidable” and the result of a gross litany of failures by prison staff.
The report concluded, however,
that there was not enough evidence to bring charges against five corrections officers the panel suspected had beaten and stomped on him, largely because the prison staff failed to properly contain the crime scene and collect evidence.