Charges Dropped Against Ex-Prison Guard in Inmate Beating

Posted at 3:11 PM, Oct 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-19 15:11:00-04

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) - Prosecutors have dropped charges against a former Florida Panhandle prison guard accused in an orchestrated beating of an inmate.

Christopher Blake Christmas has denied involvement in the August 2014 beating of 31-year-old Jeremiah Tatum at the Northwest Florida Reception Center. His case was scheduled to go to trial on Monday. In June, he almost pleaded guilty to charges but changed his mind. He had planned to defend himself.

It's unclear why the charges were dropped. Prosecutors could not be reached for comment.

Christmas was one of five guards charged in the incident. Video from the prison allegedly showed two guards slamming Tatum face-first into the concrete floor while his hands and ankles were restrained. Prosecutors said officers jumped on Tatum and pinned him to the ground on the supervisor's command.

The News Herald reports the other guards have all pleaded guilty.