An officer at the Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Miami was arrested Monday on federal civil rights charges after a 17-year-old died in a beating by other inmates that the officer encouraged using a honey bun based bounty and reward system.
An indictment unsealed Monday accuses juvenile detention officer Antwan Johnson, 35, of conspiracy and deprivation of the teenager’s rights under color of law. Johnson had an initial court hearing Monday but did not enter a plea. His lawyer declined comment.
NBC Miami reports that 17-year-old Elord Revolte died on Aug. 31, 2015, after 20 juvenile detainees beat him. Video shows the beating occurred in a day room at the detention center on August 30, 2015. The indictment says Johnson was not the only officer who was turning juveniles into violent goons.
In fact five detention center employees were actually fired soon after the 2015 beating death.
The eight-page indictment alleges that Johnson, and “other persons known and unknown to the grand jury,” conspired to “injure,…threaten and intimidate” Revolte by provoking other youths in the lockup to assault him. According to the indictment, Johnson told some of the inmates that he wanted them to attack Revolte.
Prosecutors said a number of juveniles agreed, which caused Revolte to become afraid and stand away from the other juveniles prior to and while returning to Module 9, where they were being held.
Johnson offered juvenile inmates rewards that included extra recreation time, extra television time, honey buns, and snacks all in exchange to attack Revolte for disrespecting Johnson’s authority.
The video shows one juvenile punching Revolte in the face as the teen tried to sit down in a chair. Numerous other juveniles immediately joined in the attack and punched and kicked Revolte, even after the teen fell to the floor, prosecutors said.
Revolte was rushed to Holtz Children’s Hospital where he died the day after the attack.
Miami U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg confirmed that this inmate style assault system was “commonly” used by officers at the detention center to enforce their authority and ensure obedience.
“Officer Johnson had a duty to protect these individuals. With deadly consequences, Officer Johnson did exactly the opposite of what he had a duty to do. The United States Constitution protects every person in this country, including those who are detained in juvenile detention facilities.”
Each of the two federal charges carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Christina Daly, Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice, says:
“It is our expectation that any staff who jeopardize the safety of youth be held fully accountable for their actions, including criminal prosecution. The behavior detailed in the indictment is appalling and inexcusable. Johnson will be fired from his position.”