Dale Picardat isn't your typical jailbird. The slight, bespectacled 53-year-old has zero criminal record, a degree from Michigan State University, and about as much street cred as a granny with a walker.
But he ended up at the Miami-Dade Pretrial Detention Center in August 2009 after a fluke loitering charge that was later dropped. His alleged crime: wandering without an ID around a wealthy neighborhood.
So it was unexpected when — according to a department of corrections complaint — a jailer named Marshall Hamilton escorted him into an off-camera hallway in front of cell number 5, picked him up by the throat, and slammed his head against a wall. As Picardat bled from his head, two other jailers punched him in the face and "knocked his glasses off."
Miami-Dade Pretrial Detention Center
"I was scared," Picardat remembers. "It wasn't right."
His case could be dismissed as just a skirmish were it not for a history of complaints — three of them alleging beatings in the same off-camera hallway — filed against Officer Hamilton, who has used force against at least 30 inmates in the past five years.
Internal Affairs investigators began looking into the tall and wiry jailer after he ruptured the bladder of a suicidal inmate named Terry Brown on June 29, 2001. Hamilton "punched, hit, and kicked" him and was suspended for five days. But he never lost his job.
Two years later, Hamilton grabbed a 42-year-old inmate, "kicked him in the ribs," and "slammed him into the bars of a cell, causing him to hit his right temple," according to another complaint. (Internal Affairs investigators found there was not enough evidence to take action.)
Then, on February 3, 2009, Hamilton held the arms of a 25-year-old student named Calvin Kingcade while a second officer beat him, according to a sworn audio statement. A surveillance video shows he escorted Kingcade down a tile hallway past a trash can to the off- camera nook. Kingcade emerged with scratches and bruises on his neck. (Again there was insufficient evidence.)
Picardat arrived at the jail September 3, 2009. After hours in a crowded cell, he commented about the unsanitary conditions. That's when he was taken off-camera and beaten, he says.
Jail spokesperson Janelle Hall did not respond to specific questions about Officer Hamilton or the hallway. But she sent this statement: "The department takes each case seriously and investigates allegations of abuse."
Says Kingcade's mother, Molita Spaulding: "This has to stop. Next time, someone could die."
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