Corrections officers arrested, additional arrests likely

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Clermont, Fla. —  In conjunction with a criminal investigation, the Florida Department of Corrections’ (FDC) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced the arrest of Correctional Captain Milton Gass, Correctional Officer Hunter Lingo, and Correctional Officer Joshua Petersilge.

The three officers are charged with violations stemming from an incident which occurred on July 8, at Lake Correctional Institution.

The officers were charged with the following:

Captain Milton Gass (hired July 2007)

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  • Two counts of Perjury by False Declaration (third-degree felony)
  • Three counts of Solicitation to Commit the Felony Crime of Perjury by False Declaration (third-degree felony)

Correctional Officer Hunter Lingo (hired June 2017)

  • One count of Principle to Malicious Battery (third-degree felony)

Correctional Officer Joshua Petersilge (hired September 2016)

  • One count of Principle to Malicious Battery (third-degree felony)

Following the arrests, the officers were transported to the Lake County Jail.

Lake Correctional Institution immediately terminated their employment.

Secretary Mark Inch said, “We took immediate action to terminate the employees arrested today following the criminal charges brought against them. The Florida Department of Corrections will not tolerate inmate abuse at any level. These swift disciplinary actions are a testament to our commitment to ensuring officers are held accountable when they abuse the trust of the public and those they are charged with supervising. We will continue to work cooperatively with the Inspector General as they continue to investigate all of those found to be involved in this incident. This investigation is not over. Anyone found to have acted outside their authorities or the standards of our Department will be held accountable.”

Despite their arrests, the FDOC refused to release the booking photos of the officers.

According to the arrest affidavits, the inmate, identified in the video as Otis Miller, was stuck in the ribs more than a dozen times. Additionally, he was “stomped” repeatedly, punched and kicked in the face, and nearly strangled to death as the beating was taking place. Miller also suffered a fractured jaw during the beating.

During the investigation, it was learned from a witness that as the beating was taking place, the inmate was not resisting.

However, all officers involved reported the incident as if Miller had been resisting, but in their reports, left out all instances of the use of force.

Snippet from the arrest affidavit
Snippet from the arrest affidavit

The investigation by the OIG is ongoing and more arrests or administrative sanctions may be forthcoming. If anyone has any additional information or evidence to provide, they are encouraged to contact the FDC OIG at (850) 488-9265 (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.), (866) 246-4412 (24-hour recorded tip line) or submit information online at www.dc.state.fl.us/apps/IGcomplaint.asp. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

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