State clears corrections officers in the death of Clay County inmate

Prosecutors have decided not to seek criminal charges against Clay County corrections officers who watched a 19-year-old inmate die in a restraint chair earlier this year. The death of Daniel Linsinbigler Jr. was ruled a homicide, but no charges will be filed in this Clay County Homicide Case, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Linsinbigler was in the medical unit of the jail and taken from his cell after officers said he was acting belligerent – kicking his cell door and yelling, the newspaper reported. Linsinbigler was on suicide watch at the jail 10 days after his arrest on an indecent exposure charge and was likely days or weeks from being released before his death, the newspaper reported.

Three inmates told investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement they heard Linsinbigler crying out that he could not breathe, the newspaper reported. But none of the corrections officers or medical personnel mentioned that fact in the 62-page report, the newspaper reported. Linsinbigler died of asphyxiation, the newspaper reported. Prosecutors have ruled the death accidental and unintended in this Clay County Homicide Case, the newspaper reported. The lack of charges is fairly common in case involving an inmate death, much like when people are killed in police-involved shootings. Any penalty or punishment for the police or sheriff’s office likely comes in the form of a civil lawsuit filed by the family. The standard of proof in a civil case is not as difficult to meet, and many police departments will defer to the civil court system rather than have one of their own face criminal charges. Not to mention, if prosecutors file criminal charges, it certainly lends creditability to any civil claim in the case – opening up the sheriff’s office to what could be more serious monetary damages.

The most likely criminal charge, if there were to have been one filed, would be manslaughter. Manslaughter is the charge the state applied when someone dies as a result of another person’s negligence. For example, if two people are in a fight and one ends up dying, the state could file manslaughter charges. Intent is not an issue in a manslaughter case. The state would not have to prove that the corrections officers were trying to kill Linsinbigler, only that their negligence caused his death. The first step in any case that might include officers and criminal conduct is the criminal investigation – which is now complete. The next step is an internal review that could include changes in policy or potential discipline for the officers involved. While there still are punitive options against the officers in this Clay County Homicide Case, the most serious are clearly the criminal charges – which have now been eliminated.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Clay County Homicide Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.