Department of Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil suspended two prison guards involved in the collapse of 20-year-old inmate Samuel Dread who remains in critical condition after exercising on Monday.
McNeil placed correctional officers Sgt. Michael Devanie and James Barry on administrative leave with pay after learning of “conflicting witness statements,” according to a press release issued by McNeil’s office this morning.
Dread collapsed after exercising for several hours in the 86 degree heat as part of an extended day program at Lancaster Correctional Institution near Gainesville on Monday, his first day at the boot-camp style program for youthful offenders. Dread remains in critical condition after being placed into a medically-induced coma.
“Out of an abundance of caution, I have placed these officers on administrative leave until this issue is resolved. The mission of this department is public safety, and that includes the safety of our 102,000 inmates, a responsibility I take very seriously,” said McNeil. “If any wrongdoing has occurred, appropriate, swift action will be taken. In the meantime, these officers will have no further contact with inmates.”
Gov. Charlie Crist ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the incident, saying there are questions about whether prescription medications Dread was taking required him to avoid extreme heat.
“I have every assurance that the investigation will be thorough and complete and at the conclusion we’ll know all the facts in this case,” McNeil said in a statement.