On July 23, 2012, Darren Rainey, an inmate in Florida’s Dade Correctional Institution, was placed in a prison shower by four correctional officers, who locked him the stall, and left him for nearly two hours, before discovering Rainey—who suffered from schizophrenia—was dead. His skin was peeling off his body.
Now, nearly five years later, Rainey’s death has been officially ruled an accident by state officials, who announced last week that they would not press charges against the officers involved in the incident.
A 101-page report released on Friday by the office of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle characterized Rainey’s death as a tragic error, according to the Miami Herald. The state attorney’s report discounts statements from a number of Rainey’s fellow inmates, who claimed that the shower in question had been modified to be used for punishment by prison guards.
Rainey, jailed for drug-related charges, had reportedly smeared himself with feces on the night of his death, prompting prison officials to put him in the shower to clean off. While state investigators later found the shower could reach temperatures of 160 degrees—much higher than the mandated limit of 120—they could not assess whether Rainey himself had been subjected to such hot water. At least one fellow inmate reportedly claimed he’d heard Rainey shouting, “I can’t take it no more, I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.” The prosecutor’s report stated that claim was contradicted by other evidence from that night.
While an initial report claimed Rainey’s body bad suffered burns, resulting in “skin slippage,” county medical examiner Dr. Emma Lew concluded that the water from the shower had accelerated the natural decomposition process, accounting for any peeling skin noticed by prison staff.
“The cause of death is schizophrenia, atherosclerotic heart disease, and confinement in the shower room,” Dr. Lew wrote in her report, cited by the prosecutor’s office. “There was no evidence of any intent to harm Rainey.”
Given the alleged unreliability of the inmate’s testimony, and Dr. Lew’s autopsy, state officials concluded they simply did not have the evidence to charge the prison officers with any crime.
“We are appalled that the state attorney did not look deeper into this case and see the criminality of the people who were involved,” Milton Grimes, an attorney for Rainey’s family, told the Herald after the state’s report was released.
“This is not justice for Darren, for his family, nor for the mentally ill who have been subject to similar abuse and mistreatment,” Grimes told the Associated Press.
Rainey’s family currently has a pending civil rights lawsuit against the Florida Department of Corrections.