Dept. of Corrections Officers Arrested

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WASHINGTON COUNTY-- UPDATE: 4:57PM

More information being released Friday about incidents involving inmates at the Northwest Florida Reception Center in Washington County.

This past year, four inmates have died. Three of those cases are still unresolved. Two are under review by the department's inspector general and the other by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The information is on a database for inmate mortality and in-custody deaths released by the department this week.

The latest incident at the prison involves the alleged beating of an inmate.

Wednesday, six Department of Corrections officers were arrested in connection with the alleged attack that happened on August 5th.

Captain James Kirkland and sergeants Christopher Christmas, William Finch, Robert Miller, James Perkins, and Dalton Riley are all facing charges including battery of an inmate.

Police reports said after gassing Jeremiah Tatum, Kirkland accused the inmate of spitting in his face.

Kirkland ordered the sergeants to restrain Tatum.

The reports say Tatum was then forcibly slammed face first to the ground by the five sergeants.

But in a sworn statement after the incident, the men all said Kirkland’s claims were false.

According to Sergeant William Finch, he was ordered to type up their incident reports to corroborate Kirkland’s claim.

Reports stated that during the altercation, Tatum ended up with multiple injuries.

He's now being housed at the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution.

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Six Department of Corrections officers are on the other side of the bars in Washington County today.

The men are accused of attacking an inmate.

Northwest Florida Reception Center captain James Kirkland and sergeants Christopher Christmas, William Finch, Robert Miller, James Perkins, and Dalton Riley all sit behind bars tonight.

The men were arrested Wednesday following an alleged attack of an inmate on August 5th.

Public records state the attack began after Captain Kirkland told the other men, the inmate spat on him while he was taking the man to a decontamination shower.

However, surveillance video shows that while the inmates hands and feet were restrained, Sergeants Finch and Riley forcibly slammed him to the floor…..face first.

The video then appears to show, Sergeant Christmas pinning both of the inmates legs to the ground.

But it turns out Captain Kirkland’s accusation may not be true.
In sworn statements given after the incident, the five sergeants stated under oath the inmate did not spit on Captain Kirkland.

According to Sergeant Finch, he was ordered to type up their incident reports to corroborate Kirkland’s claim.

The victim sustained multiple injuries including a chipped front tooth, a cut above his right eye as well as scrapes on his left shoulder.

The men are all charged with felony battery on an inmate.

Captain Kirkland is also charged with two counts of official misconduct.

The men have all been fired.

Officials did not reply to our request for a comment, but issued a press release that stated in part: "these arrests and terminations send a very clear message: we have zero tolerance for criminal activity by our staff.