The first four arrests occurred on June 10, 2011, when U.S. Marshals arrested South Florida Reception Center (SFRC) guards Alexander McQueen, 30, Guruba Griffin, 31, Scott Butler, 32, and Steven Dawkins, 30. All were indicted on federal charges of conspiring to violate the civil rights of prisoners at SFRC.
The four guards were accused of attacking juvenile prisoners in “Bravo” dorm with a broom and mop in February 2009. They then forced the prisoners to fight each other. When an unidentified guard walked by and saw injuries to one prisoner, the guards who were later indicted told him, “You need to go.”
McQueen was also charged with trying to “corruptly persuade” the guard who had walked by, who became a witness in the case. Additionally, McQueen and Dawkins were charged with obstructing an investigation by filing false reports that claimed one of the prisoner’s injuries resulted from a fall in the shower.
“I have ordered the immediate termination of the officers arrested today at the South Florida Reception Center,” said then-Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) Secretary Edwin Buss.
Griffin pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, and was sentenced on February 22, 2012 to 12 months in prison and one year on supervised release.
The other three SFRC guards went to trial on October 18, 2011. Dawkins was convicted on one count of filing a false report, and sentenced on January 30, 2012 to one month imprisonment plus one year on supervised release. McQueen, convicted of conspiracy and filing a false report, was sentenced to concurrent terms of 12 months plus one year on supervised release on January 30, 2012. Butler was acquitted of one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
In a separate case, three FDOC guards, employed at the Wakulla Correctional Institution, were arrested on July 6, 2011 by state law enforcement officers.
Major Joseph Garrison, 39, was charged with one count of official misconduct, Captain Megan Dillard, 31, was charged with 13 counts of official misconduct and guard Andrew Gazapian, 23, was charged with one count each of official misconduct, battery and fabricating evidence.
The official misconduct charges were related to false disciplinary reports filed against 13 prisoners. Another prisoner was beaten during a prison-to-prison transfer after making a disparaging remark about Dillard; he was later sprayed with chemical agents by Gazapian. Gazapian then filed a false report claiming the prisoner had bitten him on the thumb, but an investigation revealed that Gazapian bit himself.
“I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior they are accused of,” said Buss, who praised other FDOC employees who reported their co-workers’ misconduct to the prison system’s inspector general. “Those officers refused to allow bad behavior. They have the courage and integrity worthy of the corrections profession.”
The charges against the trio of Wakulla guards remain pending; if convicted, they risk losing their accrued retirement benefits.
Sources: Miami Herald, Associated Press, FDLE press release, www.wtxl.com
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