Four Florida correctional officers charged with murder in alleged beating of inmate

Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation

(HOMESTEAD, Fla.) — Four Florida correctional officers were arrested on murder charges for allegedly beating an inmate to death, authorities said.

Christopher Rolon, 29, Kirk Walton, 34, and Ronald Connor, 24, were arrested Thursday following a monthslong investigation of the fatal incident at the Dade Correctional Institution in Miami-Dade County, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.

A fourth officer, 28-year-old Jeremy Godbolt, was arrested by the LAX Airport Police at the Los Angeles International Airport earlier Friday, the agency said.

They all face multiple charges, including second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit second-degree murder, aggravated battery on an elderly or disabled person and cruel treatment of a detainee, officials said.

“Today is a day of accountability,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, whose office is prosecuting the case, told reporters during a briefing Friday.

Inmates “should not be subject to forms of ‘back alley’ justice, which are actions that violation Florida law,” she said.

The incident occurred on the morning of Feb. 14, before the inmate, Ronald Gene Ingram, was scheduled to be transferred to a correctional facility in Lake County, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which led the investigation into the death along with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

After Ingram reportedly threw urine on an officer, he was placed in handcuffs and removed from his cell in the mental health unit, at which point the officers “began to beat him,” the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a statement.

“The inmate was beaten so badly he had to be carried to the transport van,” the agency said.

Rundle said that a witness recalled hearing another officer say that Ingram, who was serving a life sentence for murder, “would never throw urine on another correctional officer again.”

Prosecutors displayed surveillance footage on Friday that they said reveals the moments before and after the beating. Cameras inside the Dade Correctional Facility captured officers escorting Ingram from his cell to the transport van, with Ingram appearing to walk under his own power, prosecutors said.

Footage from exterior cameras minutes later then reveal the officers escorting Ingram, whose legs are dragging and head is slumped, into the van that would transfer him to another facility, prosecutors said.

According to Rundle, the officers beat Ingram sometime in between the moments captured on camera.

“We believe that the [Florida Department of Law Enforcement] investigation has developed sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ingram was beaten out of the line of sight of the institution, where there were no surveillance cameras,” she said.

Ingram was placed in a compartment of the van alone. During a stop in Ocala, an over 300-mile drive from Dade Correctional Institution, he was found dead, authorities said.

The inmate’s death was caused by a punctured lung leading to internal bleeding, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He also had injuries to his face and torso “consistent with a beating,” the agency said.

The incident initially led the Florida Department of Corrections to place 10 officers on administrative leave. One officer also resigned over it, the department said.

“What happened in this case is completely unacceptable and is not a representation of our system or of Dade Correctional Institution as a whole,” Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon said in a statement Thursday. “The staff involved in this case failed, and as an agency we will not stand for this.”

During the first court appearance for Rolon, Walton and Connor on Friday, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mindy Glazer determined there was probable cause to hold them without bond.

Walton’s attorney, David Donet argued during the hearing that there wasn’t any proof that the officer caused serious bodily injury to Ingram.

Rolon’s attorney, Edward Martinez, told a local station following the hearing that “up until now he is innocent until the state can prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.”

ABC News has reached out to Connor’s attorney for comment.

It is unclear if the fourth officer arrested, Godbolt, has an attorney.

ABC News’ Will McDuffie contributed to this report.

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