A fourth South Florida correctional officer accused of beating an inmate to death was arrested Friday, as the other three made their first appearances in court where they were ordered held without bond.
The fourth officer, 29-year-old Jeremy Godbolt, was taken into custody Friday afternoon, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said at a news conference.
Godbolt and the other three officers - Ronald Connor, 24, Christopher Rolon, 29, and Kirk Walton, 34 - face charges including second-degree murder, conspiracy, aggravated battery of an elderly adult and cruel treatment of a detainee, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
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Connor, Rolon and Walton were in court Friday where they were denied bond by Miami-Dade Judge Mindy Glazer.
After the hearings, attorneys for two of the officers spoke briefly about the charges.
"Right now we don't even know what's happening, we don't have a warrant, we don't have the affidavit, we have nothing," said attorney Edward Martinez, who represents Rolon. "These charges seem really bad and they are bad, but Mr. Rolon enjoys a privilege that every single American has and I hope that everyone will understand that, that up until now he is innocent until the state can prove this beyond a reasonable doubt."
"We're looking forward to establishing his innocence when we go to court," said attorney David Donet, who represents Walton. "At this point it's just mere allegations against him and he's as innocent as anybody else until the state can prove those charges against him."
The charges stem from the Feb. 14 death of 60-year-old Ronald Gene Ingram, who died during a transfer from Dade Correctional Institution.
FDLE officials said before Ingram had been removed from his cell in the mental health unit, he reportedly threw urine on an officer.
Ingram was placed in handcuffs and that's when the officers began to beat him, officials said.
Officials said Ingram was beaten so badly he had to be carried to the transport van that was set to take him to Lake Correctional Institution, in central Florida.
At Friday's news conference, Fernandez Rundle said the actual beating of Ingram happened in an area where there were no surveillance cameras.
But Fernandez Rundle released surveillance footage that showed Ingram walking on his own as he's being escorted by two officers. A short time later, footage showed Ingram dragging his feet as officers are seen carrying him to the transport van.
Ingram was placed in a secure compartment in the van by himself, but when the van made a stop in Ocala, he was found deceased laying on a bench in the van, officials said.
A medical examiner determined Ingram's death was caused by a punctured lung that led to internal bleeding, officials said. He also had injuries to his face and torso consistent with a beating.
"Individuals who are sentenced to incarceration by our criminal courts, they have lost their freedom but not their basic rights," Fernandez Rundle said. "They should not be subject to forms of back alley justice which are actions that violate Florida law. Today's a day of accountability."
Department of Corrections records show Ingram had been sentenced to life in prison on a first-degree murder charge in 1986 out of Hillsborough County.
Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon said any officers or staff who could have potentially been involved in the incident were removed from the facility and placed on administrative leave.
In addition, the Florida Office of Inspector General has temporarily assigned law enforcement inspectors to every shift at Dade CI, and every officer there went through additional mandatory use of force and ethics training, Dixon said.
The department also temporarily assigned high-level leaders from facilities around state to shadow supervisors and give feedback, and relocated mid-level personnel from Dade and replaced them with supervisors from other facilities.
"There is just no words to express my absolute disappointment in the staff members involved in this incident," Dixon said. "Based on the facts presented today, these men violated public trust and they violated the trust of those that work alongside of them."