By Lucas Seiler
PUNTA GORDA, FL -
An inmate at a Punta Gorda prison being investigated by two state agencies died Friday night after a confrontation with corrections officers.
The Department of Corrections confirms Matthew Walker was incarcerated at the Charlotte Correctional Institution in Punta Gorda when he died on Friday, April 11, 2014.
They would not discuss the circumstances surrounding his death.
But sources tell us Walker was slapped by a female corrections officer while in his cell, and then other corrections officers got involved and Walker ended up dead.
We are working to confirm if any officers are under investigation in connection with Walker's death. While the Department of Corrections won't comment, we have learned nine corrections officers and a lieutenant have been put on leave at the facility.
The revelations come when the facility is under heavy scrutiny. Friday, we learned of even more serious allegations about CCI .
We first learned of the story a week ago, when two state agencies stepped in to investigate.
Since then, former guards and union representatives have come to us to claim the prison, which holds nearly 1,300 inmates, isn't safe.
Some who have worked inside the prison tell us it's an unstable facility, filled with illegal activity among not only inmates, but also employees.
Former corrections officer Ken Smith was the first person we spoke with. He called the facility "really unsafe at this point."
Another former corrections officer is speaking up now.
"Almost nothing operated the way we were taught it should operate, said former CCI corrections officer Joe Facenda.
"I came home, I don't know how many times, dumbfounded at what went on there… other officers telling you when, where and how you can get away with roughing up an inmate."
His list of issues was longer in his resignation letter to CCI, including:
- He claims he had to deal with inmates on his own, without help
- That he was told where guards could beat inmates without being seen
- That he had to train a new employee when he had only worked there himself for a month
- He says the majority of security checks that were supposed to take place did not
But his biggest concern involves surveillance cameras.
"The lack of security, as far as making sure that everyone is safe - inmates and officers. The majority of the video cameras do not work," Facenda said.
Facenda claims concerns like his could explain why two state agencies are investigating the prison.
"As far as the stuff getting in and out of there, I'm not surprised at all. With the fact that a gun could have been snuck in," Facenda said.
The incident where inmates had access to a gun happened before Walker died. The two are not connected, according to our sources.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Corrections have not returned our repeated requests for comment on the issues at the facility.