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$850,000 Settlement in Florida DOC Prisoner’s Gassing Murder

by David M. Reutter

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) agreed to pay $850,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging guards murdered a prisoner at Franklin Correctional Institution (FCI).

The suit stemmed from the September 19, 2010, death of Randall Jordan-Aparo. His death was initially covered up by guards, but Aubrey Land, an Investigator with FDOC’s Inspector General’s Office, uncovered it while investigating another matter. [See PLN. February 2016, p. 1.]

Aparo was sentenced to serve 599 days for multiple counts of credit card fraud and was classified by FDOC as a minimum security prisoner. He was known to suffer Osler-Weber-Rendu disease, a hereditary congenital blood disorder.

After his arrival into FDOC, gang members at Jefferson Correctional Institution tried to recruit Aparo to help guards smuggle contraband, including cell phones, into the prison. Aparo and another prisoner provided information that resulted in the arrests of several guards, and FDOC created a report accessible to all its employees that detailed Aparo as an informant. That action resulted in a transfer to FCI.

On July 21, 2010, Aparo declared a medical emergency, stating blood was coming from his mouth and penis. A nurse “reviewed the entire medical record” and concluded he was faking and “manipulating.” Aparo was placed in confinement.

Aparo began exhibiting symptoms from his blood disorder on September 13. He had a 102.4° temperature on September 15 when he declared a medical emergency. Senior L.P.N. Martha Greene found an EKG on September 18 looked normal despite her lack of training to make such a determination, and the test showed Aparo was tachycardic at the time. Later that day, Senior L.P.N. Lucy Franklin said Aparo disrespected her when he threatened to sue for the refusal to treat his condition. She then completed a document finding he had no medical issues that would prevent the use of chemical restraint agents.

On the morning of September 19, CNS gas was authorized to be used on Aparo, and it was administered on three occasions in his cell. Subsequent to that, Dr. Mohammad Choudhary and Nurse Ola Riley were unable to obtain a blood pressure reading from Aparo and ordered him sent back to his cell.

Prior to the gassing, Lt. Rollin Austin told Aparo, “You’re the son of a bitch I had a problem with in the chow hall, you got a slick ass mouth, and I got something for you.” Prisoners Joseph Avram, James Hamrick, Steven Whitsett testified that they heard Aparo pleading for medical help and that Austin and Sgt. James Hamm responded, “Fuck off.” Around 6 p.m., a guard found Aparo dead in his cell and rigor mortis had set in.

No criminal charges were ever filed, but Rollins and guard Kevin Hampton were fired. Aparo’s estate was represented by the law office of Steven R. Andrews in Tallahassee.

The $850,000 settlement was reached in April 2019. See: Cimillo v. Austin, USDC, N.D. Florida, Case no. 4:16-cv-00584. 

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Related legal case

Cimillo v. Austin