Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami's top prosecutor, hasn't been the subject of much public outrage during her 24 years in office. Despite wielding huge power over Miami's criminal justice system, she's largely flown
But the case of Darren Rainey has continued to dog Rundle. Two weeks ago, the state attorney declined to charge four prison guards who kept Rainey, a 50-year-old inmate with schizophrenia, in a shower that some say was as hot as 180 degrees for two hours, eventually killing him. Now, after weeks of national backlash, a group will demonstrate outside Rundle's office today to demand her resignation.
"This is beyond murder, this is beyond injustice," the protesters wrote online. "This is the most horrific state-sanctioned human rights abuse of an American citizen on American soil that I have heard of in my lifetime."
Rundle has received loud criticism for her decision not to charge the four guards who oversaw Rainey's shower in 2012. Multiple inmates told Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown and New Yorker reporter Eyal Press that Rainey had been kept in a scalding-hot shower for close to two hours as punishment for having defecated in his cell. Witnesses say they heard Rainey screaming and kicking the door, trying to get out, while the guards taunted him. Rainey died
One therapist working at the prison, Harriet Krzykowski, told the
Brown's George Polk Award-winning series on abuse in Florida state prisons led to multiple resignations in the prison system, as well as
But earlier this month, the State Attorney's Office issued a 101-page report that labeled Rainey's death an accident due to a combination of "schizophrenia," heart trouble, and "confinement in the shower." She declined to file criminal charges against anyone involved.
Rundle's report took pains to discount the testimony of multiple witnesses: One of the key witnesses in the case, an inmate named Harold Hempstead, took detailed diary notes about the
Multiple nurses reported that Rainey's body was covered in burns when it was pulled from the
Rundle then spoke to New Times to defend her decision. She said investigators simply couldn't back up the reporting of the Herald or the New Yorker in a way that would stand up in court.
“Nobody can condone someone being thrown into a hot shower and killed,” Rundle said. “We read the same thing everyone else did, but it wasn't until we really investigated that we learned that is not what happened.”
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She also made an appearance on news radio 610 WIOD, where host Fernand Amandi asked why the guards chose to keep Rainey inside the shower for close to two hours.
"That's a good question," Rundle responded.
Today's demonstration isn't the first time activists have taken to the streets to demand independent scrutiny of Rainey's death: In June 2016, "more than a dozen" activists, including former employees of Dade Correctional Institution, where Rainey died, held signs outside Rundle's office and demanded she
"Justice delayed, justice denied," one sign countered.