Officers Probed Over Inmate Abuse Allegation

June 9, 2010
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Investigators say two Orange County corrections officers did something so terrible to an inmate they could soon be jailed themselves. Officers Jose Martinez-Ayala and Alton Mercer are being criminally investigated for their use of force.

In a letter to the corrections officers, it states they are not allowed to represent themselves as an Orange County Corrections employee, they are not authorized to carry a firearm and they immediately had to surrender their badge, ID cards and any other Orange County Corrections identification.

While the jail won’t say what the guards are accused of doing, WFTV learned one guard has been in trouble for the same behavior before. Now, detectives are investigating the most recent incident.

Jose Ayala has been a corrections officer in Orange County for three years and each of those years he’s been part of an incident involving force.

In video from September 2008, Ayala is shown allegedly using excessive force on an inmate. It’s hard to see, but it appears he’s stepping on inmate Jasper Anthony while another officer applied leg irons. Ayala was scolded for the incident, but not disciplined. Last year, Ayala used force on another inmate and got scolded for not properly documenting it.

Monday, Ayala and corrections officer Alton Mercer were relieved of duty without pay for using force. Officer Mercer, who has been on the force for six years, was disciplined one time for a minor time sheet issue.

“It is serious. That’s why they called Orange County Sheriff’s Office, not taking it lightly. We will continue to move forward,” said Captain Angelo Nieves, Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

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