MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Three state corrections officers have been arrested after an inmate was falsely accused of having a shank in his possession, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced Thursday in a news release.
The arrested officers work at the Dade Correctional Institution in south Miami-Dade County.
Capt. Eric Peavey Jr., Sgt. Lizandro Rodriguez and correctional Officer Ellen Day each are charged with one count of official misconduct, a third-degree felony, and one count of falsifying an official record relating to a person in state care, also a third-degree felony.
Prosecutors said the charges stem from a Dec. 7, 2017, incident in which Rodriguez falsified a disciplinary report worksheet issued to Florida Department of Corrections inmate Lazaro Galvan, who was then housed at Dade Correctional Institution.
The final version of the report charged Galvan with possession of an improvised weapon, commonly referred to as a shank, prosecutors said.
According to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, Officer Toddra Blake had conducted an inventory of Galvan's property that day and confirmed that she found no shank.
Prosecutors said Blake also told investigators that she did not author the report that was submitted in her name and included a photo of the alleged recovered shank.
Authorities said the report also contained the signature of Peavey.
The inmate was also interviewed by investigators and said he was approached by corrections officers Dec. 7, 2017, and was directed to pack his property.
Galvan said he packed his stuff and walked to the officer’s station, where he left his property and was eventually taken into confinement.
Investigators said Galvan denied having a shank in his possession.
Additional interviews with corrections officers and surveillance footage corroborated Galvan’s claims, prosecutors said.
"By falsely charging inmate Galvan with possession of a weapon, the charged correctional officers knew, or had reason to know, that Galvan was subjected to segregation from the general population of Dade CI, a loss of visitation, and a loss of privileges available to other inmates," the news release stated. "This DR report could also be a foundation to have inmate Galvan transferred out of Dade CI to another correctional institution."
"The actions of these officers were inappropriate and do not reflect of the thousands of FDC staff across the state who serve at our institutions with integrity every day. We applaud our Inspector General's Office and law enforcement partners for their thorough investigation," Florida Department of Corrections Press Secretary Patrick Manderfield said in a statement.
According to the press secretary, Peavey was hired by the department in October 2007, Rodriguez was hired in December 2014 and Day was hired in August 2005.
Manderfield said the department is moving forward with the dismissal of each officer arrested in the case.