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3 officers at Hamilton Correctional Institution accused of assaulting inmate

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Posted at 5:47 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 17:55:02-04

JASPER, Fla. (WTXL) — Three officers at the Hamilton Correctional Institution have been arrested after being accused of brutally beating a handcuffed inmate and trying to cover it up.

Sergeants Ethan Burkett and Coty Wiltgen, along with Officer William Shackelford, are accused of brutally beating an inmate at the Jasper prison.

According to an arrest affidavit, the incident happened on March 3.

Investigators say they were searching cells when one inmate ran through the dorm, Sgt. Burkett chasing after him.

As Sgt. Burkett tried to pass, documents say an inmate pushed him, so Sgt. Wiltgen sprayed the inmate with a chemical agent.

After getting sprayed, the inmate laid on the floor and stopped resisting. The inmate was then shackled and escorted out of the dorm and out of camera view.

In their use of force reports, the officers said that the inmate was resisting after they escorted him out, so they had to strike the inmate to get him to comply.

However, witnesses told investigators that the three officers began kicking and punching the inmate Investigators say the men placed the inmate on his chest as they assaulted his head and face on the corner of the sidewalk.

Based on the evidence, all three were arrested and charged with malicious battery and official misconduct.

The Florida Department of Corrections released the following statement:

The FDC has zero tolerance for staff who act inappropriately and contrary to our core values: respect, integrity, courage, selfless service and compassion. The FDC Office of Inspector General is responsible for ensuring all reports of misconduct are investigated. Any employee found to have acted inappropriately or illegally faces disciplinary action up to and including dismissal and arrest.

FDC takes all allegations of abuse or mistreatment of inmates seriously and encourages all inmates and staff to promptly report inappropriate or illegal conduct. The FDC grievance process and an anonymous TIPS line that contacts the FDC Office of Inspector General directly provide inmates every opportunity to report misconduct without fear of retribution.