Miami (June 16, 2020) – Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Inspector General of Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) Lester Fernandez announce the charging of former Department of Corrections Officer Reinaldo Palenzuela, III with:
• 1 Count of Use of Force/Battery on a Detainee – 1st Degree Misdemeanor
• 1 Count of Use of Force/Failure to Report – 1st Degree Misdemeanor
The twenty-eight-year-old Palenzuela, who resigned from the Department of Corrections on July 19, 2019, was employed as a correctional officer for almost three years.
“There can never be an excuse for an officer abusing his authority,” commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “I believe that there is sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges filed today. I wish to applaud Department of Corrections Inspector General Lester Fernandez and Inspector Ryan Nicholas for the fine work done on this case.”
An investigation conducted by FDOC Law Enforcement Inspector Ryan Nicholas indicated that Palenzuela and another officer allegedly moved the victim, Travis Whyte, into a dormitory sally port at Everglades Correctional Institution. Whyte was handcuffed and told to stand in the corner of the sally port with his face in the corner. Whyte complied with these instructions.
While Whyte was standing as directed, Palenzuela allegedly struck Whyte in the back of the head with an open hand. The force of the slap was such that it allegedly could be heard and seen on Correctional Department camera footage taken from the adjoining room. Contrary to Florida law, Palenzuela allegedly never reported his use of force against Whyte. Palenzuela has since left his employment with the Florida Department of Corrections.
For further information, contact Ed Griffith, Public Information Officer, at (305) 547-0535 EdGriffith@MiamiSAO.com .
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