(HOMESTEAD, Fla.) -- A Florida inmate's death while being transferred between prisons has prompted a criminal investigation, the resignation of a corrections officer and the placement of 10 others on leave, authorities said.
The death occurred Feb. 14, and state Department of Corrections officials released information about the incident on Saturday, a day after the Miami Herald, acting on a tip, inquired about it, the newspaper reported.
The Department of Corrections said in the Saturday statement that the prisoner, whose name and age have not been released, died while being transferred from the Dade Correctional Institution in Homestead, Florida, south of Miami, and that "the Department immediately took action to support a full investigation and ensure inmate safety."
Citing an "open and active investigation," the Department of Corrections declined to release further details.
The Miami Herald reported the inmate was found dead in a transfer van outside the Florida Women's Reception Center, a prison in Ocala about 345 miles north of Homestead.
The Department of Corrections declined to say if the prisoner died from injuries suffered prior to being placed in the transfer vehicle or during the trip. The department would also not say if the inmate was shackled during the transfer.
Ricky Dixon, the secretary of the state Department of Corrections, described the investigation involving the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state Office of Inspector General as a "criminal case."
"As Secretary, I will be unwavering in my support for staff who perform their jobs with respect and integrity, but I will also be unrelenting in disciplining staff who act outside of the ethical standards of our profession; they will be held accountable for their actions, up to, and including criminal prosecution," Dixon said in a statement.
The Department of Corrections statement said Dixon and other agency leaders traveled to the Dade Correctional Institution immediately after the inmate's death to "assess the facility and to direct immediate action."
The statement also noted that shortly before the incident, the Dade Correctional Institution warden was replaced for an undisclosed reason and that "the new warden is conducting a holistic review of facility operations."
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