No charges to be filed against Florida corrections officers after inmate subdued, left paralyzed | memo

Florida prosecutors have decided not to file criminal charges against two former Lowell corrections officers after a female inmate was left paralyzed while at the prison.

Cheryl Weimar, a former inmate at Lowell Corrections Institute, a women's prison in Ocala, alleged in a lawsuit that four guards attacked her and broke her neck, which left her paralyzed – and under 24-hour care. 

The civil suit was settled for $4M in 2020, according to FOX News, and Weimar was later released.

"Hurt. Anger. Why? Why would God let me go through that? And then to hear they don’t even get charged with anything," Weimar said in a phone interview with FOX 35 News.

She was sentenced in 2016 to six years in prison, according to online state records.

In a written memorandum about the case, Chief Assistant State Attorney Walter Forgie concluded that there was not enough evidence to charge the officers with a crime.

Read the memo below (mobile users, click here)

According to the report, Weimar said she was beaten by the guards, while the guards said Weimar kicked them and had to be physically subdued. She landed on her stomach and her head was "tilted forward with her chin on her chest," the report said.

No surveillance video captured the incident and witnessed gave varying accounts of what happened, the report said. Some said she was "slammed" to the ground by the officers.

While the report did acknowledge the seriousness of Weimar's injury, it concluded "there is insufficient evidence to prove that the injury was intentional or as the result of culpable negligence."

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement had been investigating the case for more than two years.

"I think the first message is to our incarcerated women that nothing that we say matters," said Debra Bennett, a former Lowell inmate who now advocates for female prisoners. 

"I’m just totally disappointed," said State Rep. Dianne Hart. She wants to see more transparency for inmates in state prisons, including requiring guards to wear body cameras.

"This year we’ve got to push for them to have body cameras on when they’re transporting people," Hart said. 

The state has agreed to pay more than $4 million for Weimar's medical expenses. But prison reform advocates feel she deserves justice too. 

"Accountability definitely would have given her some peace," said Bennett said.