Florida Department of Corrections colonel charged with battery after pepper spray incident

Incident happened July 27, 2017, at Everglades Correctional Institution

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - Everglades Correctional Institution Colonel Patrick Riggins has been charged with battery and official misconduct after unnecessarily pepper spraying an inmate, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Corrections Office of the Inspector General announced Tuesday in a joint news release.

According to the news release, the victim, Mazzard McMillan, was being temporarily held in an area of the jail on July 27, 2017, when the handcuffed inmates were told to get on the floor.

Prosecutors said surveillance video shows McMillan beginning to comply when Riggins sprayed him with pepper spray for no apparent reason.

Mazzard McMillan.

Prosecutors said Riggins later directed Capt. Lindsay Bethel to compose a false incident report and a false report of force to justify Riggins' use of the pepper spray on McMillan, claiming that the inmate was trying to slip out of his hand restraints.

"All individuals in custody should receive proper treatment and respect," State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "The law requires it and our community demands it. The investigation into this incident continues."

Riggins is charged with use of force/battery on a detainee, which is a first-degree misdemeanor, and official misconduct by a public servant, which is a third-degree felony.

"The actions of Officer Riggins were unacceptable and do not represent the thousands of FDC officers who work diligently to ensure the safety of the individuals in our custody," FDC Secretary Julie Jones said in a statement. "Our department takes all cases of inappropriate and unauthorized force very seriously, and any officer found engaging in this type of misconduct is subject to appropriate discipline. We thank our Office of the Inspector General and the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office for their assistance and hard work throughout this process."

McMillan is serving a 13-year sentence for second-degree attempted murder.

Riggins was hired by the Florida Department of Corrections on May 15, 1988. Authorities said he had previously been disciplined during his career with one violation resulting in a suspension. 

Officials with the Florida Department of Corrections said Riggins will be fired.  

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