As he was strangled by his cellmate at Dade prison, guards did nothing, complaint says

Anthony Vidal was sentenced to 15 years in prison — not to death — for a non-violent robbery in 2006. But he died by the actions of the Florida Department of Corrections anyway, alleges a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Florida Justice Institute against the department in Miami-Dade circuit court Tuesday morning.

Vidal was brutally beaten and then strangled by his cellmate on March 11, 2016, at Dade Correctional Institution, a prison south of Homestead infamous for violence, according to the complaint. But the lawyers representing Vidal’s estate blame the FDC for his death, saying the other inmate’s homicidal outburst should have been predicted and the unstable man separated from the normal prison population. “Anytime you place a non-psychotic inmate with a psychotic inmate you’re going to have problems,” said Randall Berg from the Florida Justice Institute.

Furthermore, the complaint alleges correctional officers had time to intervene to prevent the violence from becoming fatal and failed to due so.

“His death was cruel, senseless, and 100 percent preventable,” said attorney Ray Taseff, also with the Florida Justice Institute, in a statement. “He wasn’t sentenced to death” Taseff said, but the institute pointed out that Vidal’s death was part of what is becoming a predictable pattern of homicide at the South Florida prison.

“We all know about the horrific case of Darren Rainey,” said attorney Erica Selig, referring to a prisoner in the mental health ward at Dade Correctional who was locked in a hot shower for nearly two hours in 2012, until his skin peeled off. Five years later, the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office said no crime was committed.

“But what many people don’t know is that prisoners are still needlessly dying at Dade CI,” Selig said.

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