Family: Prison System Killed Mom Who Warned of Abuse
They accuse Florida of ignoring inhumane conditions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2015 4:49 AM CDT
This undated photo of Latandra Ellington was provided by the Florida Department of Corrections.   (Florida Department of Corrections)

(Newser) – Florida inmate Latandra Ellington was dead 10 days after she warned that a guard threatened to kill her, and family members say the state is to blame. They've filed a lawsuit alleging that the 36-year-old mother of four was beaten and didn't receive proper medical treatment before her death last September, Courthouse News reports. The lawsuit accuses the Department of Corrections of failing to act on reports that officers at Lowell Correctional Institution used excessive force and sexually and physically abused inmates at the country's second-largest women's prison. Ellington filed a complaint about officer Patrick Quercioli less than 24 hours before she was found dead in a confinement cell from what authorities say were natural causes, the Miami Herald reports.

The lawsuit states that a private autopsy found that Ellington—who had seven months left to serve on a 22-month sentence for grand theft—had "toxic amounts" of blood-pressure medication in her system and that her body showed signs of abuse, including excessive bruising, reports the Herald, which notes that Quercioli was never disciplined over the alleged threats and has now left the prison system. Courthouse News reports that state authorities closed their investigation into Ellington's death after failing to find evidence of a beating. Her death was just one of a record 346 in Florida's prisons last year, the Herald notes. (Florida fired 32 guards last year after investigating a series of horrific inmate deaths.)