April V. Taylor
Latandra Ellington only had seven months left to serve on her sentence at the Florida Lowell Correctional Institution, but the Miami Herald is reporting that after writing a letter to her aunt just weeks before about how she feared for her life, Ellington was found dead in her cell in solitary confinement. The letter was written on September 21, and Ellington stated that “Sgt Q” had threatened to beat her and kill her.
In another letter Ellington wrote on September 30th, just days before she died, she tells her Aunt, Algerine Jennings, that Sgt. Q would consistently turn his badge over so that she could not see his name. She also told her aunt that he had threatened to “beat the s&#t out of her” multiple times. Ellington pleaded with her aunt to call the facility stating, “Auntie, no one knows how to spell or say this man’s name. But he goes by Sgt. Q and he works the B Shift a.m. So please call up here.”
Jennings called and reported what Ellington had told her and spoke to someone who identified themselves as Major Patterson. Patterson reassured Jennings that her niece would be looked after. Despite this reassurance and having Ellington moved to solitary confinement, Ellington was dead not even 24 hours later.
In their search for answers about how Ellington died, the family has paid for a private autopsy that shows that their were blunt-force trauma injuries to her stomach that are consistent with her being kicked and punched by someone. The family is hoping that based on Ellington’s letters and the autopsy findings that a federal investigation will be opened to ensure an impartial investigation and prevent the loss or destruction of evidence. The family has hired civil rights attorney Daryl Parks. Parks works for the firm who represented the family of Trayvon Martin. Parks stated to the Herald, “It’s not right that these four children would lose their mom. While the trail is very fresh, we believe a federal investigation is warranted.”
Florida’s prison system currently has nearly 200 ongoing state prison death investigations. Dale Landry who is the Vice President of the Florida NAACP describes the situation as follows, “Death, abuse and official misconduct is rampant in Florida’s criminal justice system, and nowhere is it more pervasive than in our law-enforcement and correction agencies. For over 14 years, and especially the last four, Floridians have watched this tyranny grow.”