A Florida inmate was found dead in solitary confinement last week after writing a letter to her family about threats made against her by a prison guard.
Latandra Ellington wrote a letter Sept. 21 to her aunt saying that she feared for her life because one of the corrections officers – identified only as Sgt. Q – had threatened to beat and kill her, the Miami Herald reported.
“He was gone [sic] beat me to death and mess me like a dog,’’ Ellington wrote. “He was all in my face Sqt. Q then he grab his radio and said he was gone bust me in my head with it.’’
The 36-year-old Ellington, who had seven months left on a 22-month sentence at Lowell Correctional Institution for grand theft, was found dead Oct. 1 – about 24 hours after her aunt called the prison to report the threats.
Prison officials have not given Ellington’s family a cause of death or contacted relatives since notifying them of her death, but a private autopsy showed the mother of four died from blunt force trauma to her abdomen that was consistent with being punched and kicked in the stomach.
Ellington had told her aunt that she filed several complaints against officers at the prison, and the woman said she feared her niece was being sexually abused or knew of the abuse of other inmates.
She told her aunt that Sgt. Q always turned his badge around so inmates could not see his name.
“Auntie, no one knows how to spell or say this man’s name,’’ Ellington wrote in her final letter. “But he goes by Sgt. Q and he works the B Shift a.m. So please call up here.’’
Ellington wrote that Sgt. Q took her to a room and repeatedly threatened to “beat the sh*t” out of her, and she provided the names of other corrections officers who witnessed the violence.
Civil rights attorney Daryl Parks, whose firm represented Trayvon Martin’s family, has urged the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to investigate Ellington’s death.
The attorney told Attorney General Eric Holder that an investigation should be launched soon, before state and local law enforcement had a chance to lose or destroy evidence.
“She was not sentenced to the death sentence, and the Department of Corrections certainly owed her far greater protection,’’ Parks said.
Prison records show only one male sergeant whose last name begins with Q, but the Department of Corrections did not respond to a Herald request for information about the prison guard – including his current status.
The department also declined to say whether anyone had been suspended in connection with Ellington’s death, saying an investigation was ongoing.
Ellington’s death is among nearly 200 ongoing state prison death investigations that have been turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.