A teenage inmate at a South Florida jail is threatening to sue after he says he was severely burned when a Miami-Dade Corrections officer threw boiling hot water into his cell.
"I was on the ground, like begging. It was burning,” Joshua Wiggins said. “I can't explain the pain. It was like burning.”
Wiggins, 19, is now being held at the Metro West Detention Center for allegedly having marijuana that he was going to sell.
But it’s what happened at the detention facility downtown right before the then-18-year-old went to court that has corrections officers reassigned and an investigation by the corrections department underway.
Wiggins said a female guard went way over the line.
He said he was “in agonizing pain — agonizing, talking about burning pain – burning."
He provided photos of himself that were taken a few weeks ago. Wiggins said he has been badly burned across his upper body – from his neck to his waist – and also on his arm.
On Friday, from inside the west Miami-Dade correctional facility where he’s being held, Wiggins said that on Aug. 9, 2012, he got into a verbal dispute with a female correctional officer while in his cell at the pretrial detention facility.
Wiggins said the officer responded by throwing boiling hot water through an opening in the cell door, burning him.
“Within the next few days my skin turned pink and my nipples and all that like from the top of my chest to the bottom of my stomach,” he said.
David Kubiliun is his attorney.
"That sort of behavior is completely unacceptable," he said.
Kubiliun said Wiggins was a frightened 18-year-old in an adult jail for the first time.
"Apparently this correctional officer was very frustrated with him crying. She went and got a big hot thing of water ... and poured it all over his body,” Kubiliun said.
Wiggins said his calls for help from other officers were ignored.
"After she burned me, I'm begging and begging them, begging to use the phone and like to call somebody to tell them what she did, and every C.O. who was in there acted like I was crazy,” he said.
Wiggins said at first the corrections department doctor tried to tell him he hadn't been hit with scalding water.
“The lieutenant, or I guess the corporal, she took me to the doctor and he tried to say it was a birthmark," he claims.
The corrections department said that the officers who were involved are on restricted duty and were transferred.
That’s not enough for Wiggins and his attorney.
"How can it be 13 months have passed and Mr. Wiggins has no answers?" Kubiliun said.
The corrections department said that while it has been 13 months, its investigation continues and therefore, it cannot comment further.
Wiggins and his attorney said no matter what he was in the custody at the corrections department at the time, that he was inside his cell, posed no danger to the female officer, and that nothing called for her to allegedly douse him with boiling water.
Wiggins may file a federal lawsuit soon.
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