Neal was arrested in 2015 on an attempted murder charge. He is 45 years old with a history of mental health issues. He has previously been charged with theft, possession of cocaine and marijuana with the intent to sell, strong arm robbery, battery of a person over age 65 and forgery. Neal has a physical ailment and must walk with a cane.
On April 12, 2018, while being escorted to the shower by Delman Lumpkin, a guard at the jail, Neal got into an altercation with Lumpkin. Neal later said that he and Lumpkin had several previous encounters and that Neal filed grievances over some of those encounters to Lumpkin’s supervisors.
But, Neal said, his grievances were ignored. This last encounter ended with Neal requiring medical attention after Lumpkin became physical. Lumpkin reported to two Miami-Dade police that he was attacked by Neal. He stated that Neal used his cane as a weapon. Neal was charged with felony aggravated assault. Nothing was done to Lumpkin.
A year later, after prosecutors reviewed critical footage from a jail camera, charges of felony aggravated assault were reduced to misdemeanor assault and the charge of stalking was added. The footage showed Neal and Lumpkin exchange a few words when Lumpkin began pushing Neal violently. Neal brought his arm up to brush off Lumpkin’s attack and then Lumpkin began pummeling Neal, 15 blows with both fists in about 10 seconds. Two other guards, Pedro Frade and Gillian Ambrose, came over to break up the altercation.
In August 2019, prosecutors notified Neal’s criminal attorney, Marlene Montaner, that charges were being dropped. “After a thorough review of the case file, the state is unable to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” John Byrne, Neal’s civil attorney, said the state knew that they did not have a case and that the stalking charge was just a means of justifying the guard’s actions. “Mr. Neal has been living a nightmare for over a year,” he said. “He was repeatedly beaten by a correctional officer and, instead of the officer being charged with a crime, he was charged.”
Civil rights advocates say the case brought much-needed attention to the Miami-Dade County Jail. They are concerned that only a handful of abuse cases have been addressed in the past 10 years. They say that most of these types of cases happen in unobservable sections of the jail.
In June 2020, the prosecution told Neal’s defense counsel that charges of battery and official misconduct were being investigated against Lumpkin, Frade and Ambrose. Lumpkin was placed on administrative assignment where he has no contact with prisoners or detainees at the jail pending the investigation.
Neal’s original attempted murder charges were dropped when the victim refused to testify and other evidence indicated that Neal was simply defending himself. Although charges were dropped, Neal was not released from custody because of pending arson charges over fires he allegedly set in the jail. “It’s a pandora’s box of things that have gone wrong,” said Montaner. “But what is true is that he doesn’t belong in jail and what is true is he shouldn’t be there any longer at the mercy of the corrections officers that have beat him senseless like that.”
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