On December 12, 2022, FCI Miami Warden Samantha Serrano signed a letter to U.S. District Choose W. Louis Sands (Center District of Georgia), which acknowledged an inmate the decide had sentenced to jail had died whereas in custody. The letter learn “This letter is to inform you of the loss of life of Robert Pressley … The reason for loss of life is pending till the ultimate report is obtained from the Medical Examiner.”
Pressley, 43 years previous on the time of his loss of life, was serving a 12-year jail time period. Primarily based on info from those that knew him on the jail, he was a smooth spoken man who had no enemies. He did nevertheless have quite a lot of medical points.
In November, Pressley complained of a persistent cough that was resulting in, at instances, coughing up blood. Whereas checks for Tuberculosis got here again damaging, he was despatched exterior of FCI Miami for medical therapy to Ryder Trauma Heart at Jackson Memorial in Miami. In response to a supply who’s acquainted with Mr. Pressley’s therapy however who didn’t need to be recognized, medical doctors found that metallic was detected in his lungs, resulting in issues along with his respiration. The metallic appeared to be from a metallic rod positioned in his again from a surgical procedure executed previous to jail.
For essentially the most half, FCI Miami, which homes 762 low safety inmates, is an open campus with dormitory-style dwelling for the inmates. Prisoners stay in a block-cubicle inside an open dormitory with shared bathe and bathroom services. Nonetheless, upon being discharged from the hospital, Pressley didn’t return into basic inhabitants however as an alternative was positioned in E-Unit, designated for quarantine due to his interplay with the hospital exterior of the ability. It is a process developed after the COVID-19 pandemic to forestall viral contagion throughout the compound.
On the night time of December 10, 2022, Pressley was positioned in a cell with Kenbrell Armor Thompkins. Thompkins was serving a 25-month sentence on fraud associated fees. Thompkins’ fall from grace that landed him in jail got here years after he was an un-drafted free agent out of the College of Cincinnati who spent three seasons enjoying skilled soccer with the New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, and New York Jets.
Pressley was taken from his cell to go to well being companies at FCI Miami after complaining to the employees that he was having bother respiration. Twenty-minutes after seeing somebody in well being companies, he was returned to his cell, E01-024. Pressley was on the decrease bunk and Thompkins on the highest.
There’s a scarcity of employees all through the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). As Director Colette Peters told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2022, “Regardless of ongoing recruitment efforts in 2022, hiring has been a problem.” On the similar listening to, Shane Fausey, Nationwide President Council of Jail Locals that represents bargaining union members within the BOP, put it in additional stark phrases, “It’s no secret that the Bureau of Prisons is within the midst of a staffing disaster of epic proportions.” Donald Murphy Workplace of Public Affairs, Workplace of Congressional and Public Affairs BOP, supplied an announcement for this text that “FCI Miami continues to take care of enough staffing to fulfill their mission.”
That night, a single corrections officer (Recognized as “CO”), who typically is known as on to work many hours of additional time, was liable for the depend of inmates in Unit-E. “Rely,” because the title implies, are routine counts of prisoners to guarantee that they’re all accounted for and of their correct location. It additionally serves as a security test on the well-being of prisoners. Like different nights, CO was the only corrections officer liable for each Unit-E and Unit-F. At midnight, he walked down the vary of Unit-E cells, peeked into the window of the cell and counted every inmate. All was quiet as CO counted eighty-eight prisoners in Unit-E, together with Pressley and Thompkins. The CO returned to Unit-F, linked by an extended hall, counted the prisoners there and returned to a small workplace to do paperwork till it was time for the subsequent depend.
At 3:00am, the CO began his stroll down the hall towards Unit-E and as he approached, he may hear screaming and pounding on the heavy metal door of a cell. He quickened his tempo and got here to the cell the place Thompkins beating and screaming. The CO instructed Thompkins to step again so he may look into the cell by a small window. Thompkins was frantic, crying and shortly moved away from the door permitting the CO to look into the cell the place blood was spattered over all of the partitions, mattress and ceiling. Pressley lay immobile in a pool of blood on the ground, his eyes extensive open.
“He’s useless,” Thompkins screamed, then rolled up in a ball on the ground. “I didn’t kill him, I attempted to assist him! He’s been useless for over an hour!”
The CO referred to as for backup and one other corrections officer appeared after 5 minutes. Not realizing what had occurred within the cell, CO couldn’t rule out an assault so he rigorously opened the cell and Pressley was pulled by his ft into the hall and the cell door was then shut and locked with Thompkins nonetheless inside.
Makes an attempt to revive Pressley had been tried in desperation but it surely was obvious that he had been lifeless for a while. The CO, caught between this evolving emergency and his obligation to depend the prisoners, referred to as to his supervisor asking, “I’m executed with depend and I have to know if I name in 88 or 87 inmates. Inmate Pressley is useless.”
Determined makes an attempt had been made to name the coroner to come back to the ability however no person may get there. Pressley’s physique laid within the hall of Unit-E for 5 hours earlier than it was eliminated. After an interview with Thompkins, he was lastly faraway from the bloody cell, allowed to bathe and moved to a different cell. He was traumatized.
In most prisons, there may be an emergency button throughout the locked cell for inmates to push. In Unit-E of FCI Miami there are none, nor are there cameras inside Unit-E that would detect such an occasion. BOP’s Murphy’s supplied an announcement relating to emergency notification in cells stating, “ Duress alarms or buttons are usually not required in any respect areas and are usually not presently utilized at FCI Miami.” In response to those that have talked to Thompkins relating to the incident, Pressley began choking and woke him up at roughly 12:30am. Pressley went to the bathroom and began coughing up blood and vomiting. Unable to manage himself he gasped for air, clutched the bunk mattress for assist and went forwards and backwards throughout the cell making an attempt to breathe. He lastly collapsed on the ground, transferring for a bit, then he went quiet.
Thompkins, realizing that he too was in a quarantine unit, had no thought what Pressley was affected by. He was conflicted over whether or not to assist or how he may assist. Thompkins did the one factor he may do and that was to beat on the cell door, scream for assist and hope that somebody would come. The CO was the primary particular person there, over 90 minutes after Pressley’s respiration episodes started and shortly died.
“I really feel for Mr. Pressley,” Gloria Thompkins, Thompkins’ mom, stated in an interview, “however I’ve been unable to speak to Kenbrell and my thought is that what he witnessed was unimaginable. Gloria is aware of little in regards to the incident, solely bits of knowledge she has been in a position to get from a community of households who’ve family members there. “I’ve not talked to him in weeks and I’ve referred to as the jail however no person will inform me what’s going on,” Gloria stated, “He’s going to want counseling or one thing. I simply can’t think about what he noticed.”
Kareen Troitino, the native corrections officer union president, stated of the incident, “As a value financial savings initiative, the Company is jeopardizing lives by forcing one officer to oversee two buildings housing inmates. This lack of life would have by no means occurred if we had one officer in every constructing as we had previously.”
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