On Oct. 12, 2017, 62-year-old inmate Craig Ridley died in a Florida prison after guards snapped his neck and left him to die.
An appalling footage shows an Army veteran prison inmate died after suffering a catastrophic injury when corrections officers tackled him to the ground face first. The incident that took place on September 8, 2017, left Craig Ridley, 62, paralyzed on his bunk, while prison staff passed by his cell a total of 170 times, without heeding his cries for help.
“My neck is broke,” Ridley said, as per the video taken by officers shortly after his injury which was acquired by the Miami Herald. “I’m paralyzed,” he pleaded. Ridley was smashed into the ground by Captain William Jerrels after he allegedly muttered something “offensive” to Sgt John Nettles, who first hit the prisoner in the face. It was on September 12, 2017, when a corrections officer finally reckoned something was severely wrong and Ridley was brought to a hospital in Jacksonville. He died on October 12, 2017, because of irreversible damage to his body.
Ridley was pushed into a wheelchair by policemen present at the scene of his injury after “refusing” to walk. According to the footage, officers ignored his pleas as he drooped forward awkwardly on the wheelchair.
Ridley was then kept in a confinement cell for five days and prison guards Sgt John Nyitray and Officer Daniel Greene told him “you’re bulls****ing…you’re just trying to get a lawsuit” when he claimed he couldn’t walk on his own. According to the report, the officers then placed him on a toilet where he was unable to maintain his balance, and once more fell face first on the floor.
Ridley’s cellmates noticed he was immobile and requested medical attention for him. However, police and nurses did nothing and walked away. According to 11 inmates, he was not seen leaving his bunk or touching his food trays, reported Daily Mail.
As per the medical examination, his death was ruled as a homicide. The causes of death were listed as “blunt impact” to the head and neck, a major spinal cord injury, and “complications of quadriplegia” — the paralysis of all four limbs.
“This was an inhumane death caused by an abysmal lack of medical treatment,” said Diane Ridley Gatewood, Ridley’s sister, a New York lawyer who has incessantly fought for years to obtain records about her brother’s death. “It was torture,” she added while speaking to the Miami Herald.
David Rembert, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Prairie View A&M University, said: “His civil rights were violated. This was deliberate indifference to medical needs. If you’re walking past somebody’s cell day after day and they’re not moving, you have to know something is wrong.”
“The circumstances of this case are isolated, and absolutely no reflection of what our policies outline and expect. We have reviewed this case in depth and recognize the many failures that took place and we have learned from it,” Michelle Glady, spokesperson, for the Florida Department of Corrections said.
Ridley was a native of Missouri and worked as a kitchen staff at Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler, the primary hospital for Florida’s prison system. He received a 20-year prison term in 2008 for aggravated assault and criminal mischief, and was known to be a calm inmate who enjoyed playing chess and running. In 2025, he would have been eligible for release.
Footage obtained by the @MiamiHerald, reveals Army veteran prison inmate Craig Ridley was left pleading for medical attention for 5 days after being tackled by a prison guard in 2017. He suffered a broken neck, PARALYSIS & died a month later from his severe injuries. pic.twitter.com/nlmEntbMg5
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) October 14, 2022