Putnam sheriff reprimands officers after recent inmate dies
Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 2:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 2:29 p.m.
The Putnam County Sheriff's Office has reprimanded two correctional officers for their treatment of an inmate who died a day after being released from the county jail. However, the Sheriff's Office noted that the man's death was caused by pneumonia, not how he was treated at the jail.
Frank Aubrey Mongal, 63, was booked into the Putnam County jail Aug. 21 following his arrest by Palatka police on charges of disorderly conduct, trespassing in a structure and resisting an officer without violence. Police said the charges were the result of an incident at the Putnam Community Medical Center.
According to the Sheriff's Office, the hospital cleared Mongal medically for admission to the jail.
Mongal was released from the jail a day later, Aug. 22, and then died Aug. 23 at the medical center.
Medical center CEO Daniel P. McLean said on Thursday that privacy laws prevented him from commenting on Mongal's diagnosis or treatment, including his release prior to going to jail.
"I'm very confident that he was appropriately treated and released," McLean said.
He said Mongal apparently was involved in disruptive behavior that resulted in his arrest. When Mongal returned to the hospital, he "had progressed in his illness apparently, because he was admitted," McLean said.
On Aug. 24, the Medical Examiner's Office notified the Sheriff's Office of an allegation that Mongal may have been mistreated while at the jail. Sheriff Jeff Hardy ordered an internal investigation into the treatment of Mongal while at the jail.
On Thursday, the Sheriff's Office released the results of that investigation.
In a news release, Capt. Dick Schauland wrote: "The Medical Examiner determined that the cause of death of Frank Mongal was pneumonia, and that no actions taken by law enforcement contributed to his death."
However, Schauland also wrote that the internal investigation revealed "that two corrections officers did not use due care while booking Mongal into the facility, or while preparing to shower him after he had defecated on himself. Both officers, Bill Hamby and Samad Green, have received letters of reprimand for their actions."
The letter of reprimand is the first discipline Hamby has received since being hired at the jail on June 1, 2004.
Green, who was hired on Feb. 28, 2005, has received two previous letters of reprimand.
In February 2007 he was cited for delivering the wrong inmate to the booking area to be released from the jail.
In June 2006, Green was cited for allowing a breach of security by allowing a door or other security device to remain open.
The internal investigation following Mongal's death included reviews of videos taken by security cameras at the jail.
In the first video, Mongal can be seen being brought into the jail by a Palatka police officer. Mongal was reportedly unable to stand or walk.
"The prisoner was forcefully placed on a bench by Officers Hamby and Green and later also forcefully taken to a shower," Schauland said.
In the video, officers are seen taking Mongal into an area and placing him on a bench. Then the employees pick him up off the bench and he ends up hitting his face and head against the wall twice as they try to stand him up. Soon afterward, officers are seen dragging him along the floor down a hallway and around a corner.
In reports, officers said they believed Mongal was either drunk or purposely being non-compliant. Mongal also continued to defecate on himself, they reported. Green said he and Hamby were worried about exposure to body fluids and he wanted to quickly move Mongal to the shower stall to avoid contaminating the floor and booking area.
Green also said he didn't feel Mongal was mishandled and thought the prisoner would have "taken more responsibility for keeping his balance," the report stated.
Mongal reportedly had a cut on his head when he arrived at the jail, but police told jail staff that the cut happened before Mongal was arrested, and it was bandaged at the jail.
Mongal, a resident of the Simmons Labor Camp in Pomona Park, was released the next morning.
While waiting for someone from the labor camp to pick him up, "Mongal fell out of a wheelchair, and again bumped his head against the wall," Schauland said.
A jail medical officer put another bandage on Mongal's head and the person who came to pick up Mongal was allegedly told about concerns the jail staff had about Mongal's health.
Jail employees told internal investigators that they offered to call an ambulance, but the person picking up Mongal declined the offer and said the labor camp would handle Mongal's medical care.
Mongal was driven back to the camp, but hours later was taken by ambulance back to the medical center, where he later died.
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